syrian rebels fight back after a major government offensive on the road from damascus. hello there. this is al jazeera live from doha. our other stop stories. doctors in yemen protest against the lack of medical supplies. nigeria's president says he has kept his proposal to defeat boko haram and bring peace to the
north. rivers keep rising in the mid north-west. rebel forces are fighting back again syrian government forces in the south of the country. these pictures show the aftermath of an attack on a tank. it is the first government offensive in southern syria since russian air strikes began three months ago. al jazeera is unable to independently verify these pictures. the city is on the main supply group. the city is near the border with jordan. that's where the first major anti-government protests took place in 2011. our correspondent joins us live. what is the situation you're hearing now?
>> reporter: they are, indeed. rebel forces on the ground say this has been one oft most intensified fighting ever, the heft-- of the most-- heaviest trying to gain territory. the rebels have caused for general mobilization. we do understand that different rebel factions, particularly of the free syrian army, which is a conservative group and different factions are now trying to launch a massive counter-attack to reclaim some of the territory they lost yesterday. it is a very critical moment. it seems that the government is now willing to make some significant gain. 2015 is going to be remembered as the year when the rebels made the most spectacular gain in northern syria, particularly in idlib. in hours they managed to overrun a huge swathe of land.
this is something that the land is willing to reverse and now the target is the platform for the records, the stronghold of the rebels outside of the capital of damascus you mentioned different rebels groups are operating in the area. are they uniting to try to take on bashar al-assad's forces? >> reporter: they haven't been able to create a united front again president bashar al-assad, but we do understand that this battle could be a battle of survival for them. if they lose this city, ethat could be the decline of the president in the outskirts of darrah which has always been a focal point of the military presence of rebel groups. the problem we've been having in the past is you're talking about groups with different
ideologies. on the one hand you talk al-nusra front and then the syrian army, and this is the group committed to reestablish a democratic syria, but it is a group which has been weakened. then you have conservative groups. there is also i.s.i.l. which has been trialling to find a niche in the area. in this whole mix, these groups have been fighting for months and months and bigger control and say in the area. they have found themselves weakened. this could be a rare opportunity for rebel groups to unite. if you look at the posts on social media over the last few hours, this is exactly the same message which has been replicated again and again. if we don't unite, if we don't
mount a solid offensive, we're going to be defeated thank you for your update inside syria. it has been three months since russian air strikes in syria began providing much needed momentum to the forces of bashar al-assad. since then russian forces have carried out more than 5,000 bombing runs in syria targeting i.s.i.l. and to those backed by western powers. the observetry for human rights say they've killed more than 2300 people. more than a third of those killed are civilians, including 180 children. russia labels the allegations as absurd. hospitals in the yemen city of thies are on the verge of shutting down. they say they've been starved of medical supplies.
>> reporter: at the closing of the year no let up in the fighting in yemen. houthi rebels fire shells at a hospital killing a child. hospitals are on the front line in the battle between the rebels and supporters of the internationally recognised government. medical staff are struggling to cope. at the hospital they plead for more oxygen supplies. without them they say medical care will suffocate. >> translation: we are protesting today because we are no longer able to save our patients. they arrive injured and we cannot help them. there is no oxygen or sir cal treatment. >> reporter: people are having to bring in their own oxygen bottles. >> translation: i had to get it outside the hospital because none are available here. >> reporter: the united nations says more than 21 million yemenis need help. that's 80% of the population.
houthi fighters are not allowing the supplies through. some of that aid is being provided by saudi arabia which has led a coalition fighting the houthi rebels. both sides have been criticized for the number of civilians killed and injured in bombing campaigns. saudi arabia says its humanitarian convoys are being targeted. >> there are some attacks on ours and other organizations either by military people or non-military people. we are calling all those people that you are violating the international law. >> reporter: the patients at this hospital are unlikely to care where the aid comes from, just as long as it comes. rob matheson the nigerian government says it's ready to dpoesht with boko haram for the release of nearly 200 school girls missing for more than a year and a half. they were taken from their
dormortories. straight know to our correspondent where the president may be ready to negotiate, but it's not that straightforward, is it? >> reporter: yes. exactly. the president spoke actually on a live national television broadcast on wednesday night. he talked about issues bordering on governor's corruption, the economy which is impacted by the failing oil prices, and also one of the critical issues on which his election was on, and the abduction of the school girls. it is said the government exactly at the moment doesn't know exactly why these girls-- exactly where these girls are, but it is leaving its doors open to negotiations to try and get back these girls who have been
kidnapped i think more than 20 months ago. when he was asked whether or not the government is ready to negotiate, he said he is leaving his options open. >> we are still keeping our options open, that if a credible leader of boko haram can be established and then we can negotiate without any precondition you've just been up to the north-east where many of these boko haram attacks have taken place. what's the situation like there now? >> reporter: well, it's not only my that we went to. we went with the military. on one of the reports that we had on 28 december. basically the military has succeeded in winning several battles in the north-east and it has been critical. stabilising the situation a little bit, but the situation is
still volatile. we've seen over the last few months how boko haram is fighting back, using suicide bombers. in particular, the attacks on tuesday night or monday night which was, of course, a key point. boko haram members drove to the edge of the city, deployed suicide bombers to the city. they destructed vehicles and some people sneaked into the town, but largely the nigerian military is able to defeat boko haram in many areas, displacing them, but some of these areas are not secure enough for the return of refugees. what the authorities are now doing is to try to move people, vulnerable communities, who are easy targets for boko haram, to much larger towns or more populated towns to ensure their safety. activities are going on as normal. even after the attacks on the city the last few days, things
have quiet enned down and things are moving. there are some kind of optimism in the area in particular regarding the stabilization of incidents there or rather the situation there. >> reporter: cashing on the relative peace, traders load trucks with essential supplies to liberated areas of north-east nigeria. this is now a busy hub. >> there are improvement over the last four months. we are getting the peace gradually. >> reporter: some of the goods he sells end up in the hands of retailers at the market. boko haram's attacks on this margaret has decreased. the last one was four months ago. business confidence is returning. customers from across the border
are slowly coming back. there is a long way to go to repair the impact of the violence. >> it used to be the major trading post for the trade. it has impacted negatively such that, believe me, it has eroded the base by as much as 90%. >> reporter: it could find its seat again as infrastructure and business confidence has been badly shaken. >> the madness is gradually coming to an end. we may experience some ups and down but the worst is over. >> reporter: traders are trying to look to the future when they can regain access to cameroon, chad and nigere. security along the borders have
jazeera. rebels are fighting back after syrian government forces launched a major offence south of the country. hospitals in the yemeni city of thies are on the verge of shutting down as fighting there continues. doctors and nurses protested. one hospital refused to take on any more patients. the head of government is to negotiate with boko haram for the release of 200 schools girls missing for more than a year and a half. the battle to take ramadi from i.s.i.l. the prime minister is promising to turn his attention to mosul which was taken by i.s.i.l. last year. hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have been
displaced in the country's second largest city. most have fled to irbil. >> reporter: this man's hasn't been the same for the last two years, since he lost his arm in a car bomb explosion in mosul. it is hard, he says, to learn to write with the other hand and that's why he goes to a class. his family had to family left 20 kilometres away. when he came to that town too, they left again. like many around them, it is the cheerful times at the end of the year that are the hardest. >> translation: my family and i can't celebrate. my son lost his arm, my brother is missing. i.s.i.l. took him as a prisoner. it is very hard to feel happy
when your loved ones are missing. >> reporter: at this camp for displaced chris tense, more than 50,000 families are from mosul. although they have been welcomed in, they still miss their homes. they are living so close to the front lines of i.s.i.l. locally known here as d.a.e.s.h. this man is a priest. he too was forced to leave his home in mosul. >> translation: we like to give our people hope and we all believe that god is always with us. i.s.i.l. is very close to where we were. it is a threat not only for the christians but all peace loving muslims in kurdistan. >> reporter: every year the congregation at this church grows. they still hold on to the one thing they can. hope. >> everybody hope to go back to our homes. >> translation: we want to go back to our lives and go back home to peace and safety.
>> reporter: as the politicians search for a solution to the conflict, in areas like this just out of the reach of i.s.i.l. fighters, christians who fled and the local people who have sheltered them can only wish that the coming year will be better than the last one the primary suspect in a west bank arson attack will be charged with murder. that's according to israeli prosecutors. the july attack killed three members of a palestinian family, including a three month old babe. the only family member to survive is the four year old son. an indictment is expected within five days. votes are being counted in central african republic. a landmark presidential and parliamentary vote passed without major violence. many hope it will mark an end to
conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people. >> reporter: the police are here to make sure voters feel safe. security is tight. pk5 in bangui is a muslim enclave. these people felt under siege so the officers' presence is reassuring. they say if they dare to leave the area they could be killed. >> translation: we want a president so we can live in peace, so we can walk and go wherever we want. so we can leave this neighborhood. we're stuck here like prisoners. if we get a good president. we can go anywhere. we will feel good, sleep well and won't hear gun shots any more. >> reporter: central africans have voted to start over. mostly christian militia took revenge on seleca.
neighbors turned on neighbours. this man left pk5 when the war was at its worst. he lives in a camp >> with the muslims we have been together since we were young. we have been over come with what has happened. i've decided to come back and fight so that muslims and christians can be together. >> reporter: last week an seleca leader dropped his call for an autonomous state. >> reporter: during the referendum this was where there was a gun battle between hard liners from within the community and u.n. peacekeepers. fighters were trying to intimidate people from voting, but now we're told some of those who were shooting them are now voting. but there were problems. this man has been told he can't vote because he is not on the list. >> translation: i have to do it and i cannot. so i'm not happy. one voice can mean a lot.
>> reporter: there were also delays at many polling stations and in two parts of the capital the election was cancelled because there was no voting material. >> what these people want is a new start, a new way of handling this country. what i'm hearing is equity, rule of law, democracy. they want their leaders to be accountable. >> reporter: whoever wins has a huge task to amend divided communities and building a united country. expectations are high and there is hope that the mistrust and violence is behind them the french interior minister says there's no room for violence or race im. there have been protests after violence. a muslim prayer room was vandalised on friday a a day after two firefighters were attacked. >> reporter: in a prolonged
state of emergency and with community relations badly damaged, france is still feeling the after effects of attacks in paris. the french island of corsica has its own identity and harbours notions of separatism. it is the latest scene of racist violence since the attacks. >> translation: calm have to return. this is a beautiful island but people will be frightened to come here. >> reporter: on christmas eve in this housing estate home to a large north african immigration, a fire was made and then firefighters were take. ambush situations like this one are common in france. last year hundreds of firemen were attacked in similar circumstances, but it has never happened here in corsica. in response an angry crowd ransacked a local muslim prayer room and demonstrators chanted
racist slogans. >> translation: we heard racist slogans such "arabs out", but that's not likors ca. they shouted "go home", but this is our home. >> reporter: the french govern has been quick to respond, touring the scene and talking to residents. >> translation: i want to say these acts have no place on this island. >> reporter: napolean was born on this island, but it is not french national sayings. separatist have gained control of the island's legislature. >> translation: we are engaged in a struggle for the autonomy of corsica and recognition of the rights of the corsican people, but this struggle is inseparable from a vision of openness, generosity, tolerance
and humanity. >> reporter: whether the christmas violence here is connected to the separate identity that mr corsicans feel or part of a wider reaction to the paris attacks, it's a further sign of how france has to go to reunite its divided communities severe flooding in southern latin america has forced thousands of people from their homes. more than 100,000 people are in shelters. the el nino is being blamed. in the united states the mississippi river has risen to dangerous levels after four days of heavy rain. >> reporter: the millions of people who live around the mississippi river valley are used to spring time flooding but unusual lip warm, wet winter weather has swollen the waterway and threatens to over whelm the
extensive levies. troops have come to help with sand bags >> the rain we have received has caused river levels to not only rise rapidly but to go to places they've never been before. >> reporter: where the misdeeds and missouri rivers meet, residents left. large parts were understand water. major highways have been closed but motorists who ignored warnings and tried to defy the flood waters accounted for most of the fay at all its. the danger-- fatality $. it is shift down river about 100 kilometres south of st louis. it will croft over 15 metres matching a record set in the his to being 2012 flood. while smaller rivers are
expected to crest weekly, it will take weeks for the mississippi to fall below flood levels. some flooded areas will have to deal with ice > > the victory in short, the opposition controlled congress for the first time in more than a decade. a new set of u.n. global goals will come into effect on new year's day. one is to extreme poverty by 2030. half of the world's population, that is nearly three billion people live in poverty and 1.3 billion of those live in extreme poverty. in the second part of our story, we visit a town in rural guatemala where people are struggling to make ends meet. >> reporter: this woman prepares food for her family. with five children to support
and a job that pays only a few dollars a day, meeting her family's needs is a struggle. the 48-year-old says she is doing the best she can. >> translation: i never went to school and my husband only finished third grade. i don't read or write. i tell all my children they have to study hard to get ahead so they don't end up poor like us. >> reporter: they, like many of guatemalas, depends on unregulated work. seven days a week she makes corn tortillas to sell. she has to charge less while her costs continue to rise. >> translation: it is not much, but it is enough to sustain my children. it is important to administer the money well. >> reporter: in january a new set of united nations development goals will come into effect. one key object twitch is to cut global apostasy in half by 2030
and eradicate extreme poverty completely. the new set of goals have been called the blue prints for the future, giving governments a focal point and a way for ngo to assess their progress. while the world predicts poverty will fall below 10%, in guatemala the poor are getting poorer. raising the standards of living of nearly half the population will prove difficult. >> translation: the problem here isn't just that there's lots of poverty. it is that there is massive inquality. there is an ocean between those of us who have resources and those that we don't. if we don't look at things in an economic way and how our economic system is structured, then we won't fix poverty. >> reporter: much will depend on how committed guatemala and the global committee are to the new development goals and cut back
poverty at its roots. david m ercer of course, you can always keep up-to-date with all of the very latest news on our website. al jazeera.com. but will the men - and women of japan take up the challenge to change. i'm steve chao, on this episode of 101 east we investigate if japan's can be bridge its gender gap.