[ gunfire ] rebels battle to stop government forces taking control of a key town in syria. ♪ hello, i'm barbara sarah, you are watching al jazeera live from london. also coming up on the program, fighting to save yemen's children. doctors warn lives will be lost without more medical supplies. at least 24 people are killed in as the mississippi river floods in the united states. and -- [ cheers ] welcoming in the new
year-rouyear around the world. hello there, thank you for joining us. a battle is underway in syria that can have a big im -- impact on the course of the civil war. rebel fighters are launching an offensive to recapture a key city. rebel factions are fighting back. hashem ahelbarra reports. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: these rebel fighters are on the counter offensive. they are launching an attack to repel government troops in an opposition strong hold in southern syria. they say that many tanks that were part of the government offensive were ether destroyed
or forced to retreat. but the army backed by russian fighter jets say the fight is almost over that the city will soon be under its control. >> the russian arrival is like game changer. it added more military assets, more air power, more intelligence, since we know earlier when president assad in his speech said i don't have enough personnel to fight. so accordingly, the russians are here trying to, you know, limit the spillback of the regime. >> reporter: this is the birthplace of syria's uprising, while the capitol of the province is still under rebel control, the government has captured most of the towns. if captured by government forces, the rebels will have to pull out. it's fall is also going to be bad news for rebel factions
based on the outskirts of damascus. it's also a vital supply route for weapons and recruits. there are many arms groups operating in dara, mainly al-nusra front, free sir ran army brigades, and [ inaudible ] fighters, but the opposition rebels have been weakened by divisions and internal fighting. the opposition has called on the rebels to set their differences aside and defend the city. a defeat at this particular moment could undermine the chances of the rebels pushing for more concessions from the government in the upcoming talks that will be held in geneva. hashem ahelbarra, al jazeera, southern turkey. a pro-government commander has been killed in a drive-by shooting in the yemeni city of aden. he was shot dead just hours after handing over control of to
government troops. and one of the last working hospitals says it came under attack on wednesday. rob matheson has more now on the challenges facing medical staff working in a war zone. >> 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 government. medical staff are struggling to cope. at a hospital in ta'izz they plead for more onning gej supplies, without them, they say, medical care will suffocate. >> translator: we are protesting because we are no longer able to save our patients. we cannot help them. there is no oxygen, no surgery equipment. >> reporter: people being treated in the hospital, a,
their family and friends are bringing in oxygen. the united nations says more than 21 million yemenis now need humanitarian aid, that's roughly 80% of the population. but aid agencies say houthi fighters aren't allowing the supplies through. some aid is now being supplied think saudi arabia. both sides have been criticized for this number of civilians killed and injured bombing campaigns. saudi arabia says its humanitarian convoys are being targeted. >> there are attacks on some of ours and other organization trucks, either by military people or non-military people who are attacking those humanitarian aid, and we are calling on all of those people that you are violating 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, al jazeera. the taliban has the opportunity to end its campaign of violence that's according to afghanistan's president. he was speaking ahead of four-way talks on restarting negotiations with the armed group. representatives from afghanistan, pakistan, china, and the united states will meet next month with a view to reestablishing a peace process that was stalled last july. the afghan president believes it represents an historic opportunity to end the violence. >> translator: these meetings will be held on the 11th of january, first in islamabad, then the second one will be held here in kabul. the objective is to find a road map for lasting peace. the fundamental issue is the choice, choose peace or terrorism. there is no other choice. there will be no tolerance for terrorism. iraq y officials say the mat
l to retake ramadi from isil has destroyed 80% of the city. the army claimed control of central ramadi on sunday, but isil is still fighting in other districts. many people remain trapped, but thousands have escaped and are living in camps nearby. >> translator: at that time, everything was in disorder, the cruel punishment was above all else. the extremist groups just enjoyed slaughter and bloodshed. my 12-year-old cousin was killed by them. they said the child took pictures of him. they killed him and put him into a garbage bag and we were not allowed to bury his body. the iraqi prime minister is promising to turn his attention to mosul next, that's the country's second largest city. it has been under isil control since last year. and that has lead to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. many have escaped to erbil from
where our correspondent reports. >> reporter: the holidays haven't been the same for the last two years, since he lost his arm in a car bomb explosion in mosul. it's hard he says to learn to write with the other hand, that's why he goes to a class for younger students. his family first had to leave their home after isil arrived in mosul and told christians there to pay a new tax or leave. they left. when isil came to that town too, they left again. like many others around them, it's the cheerful times at the end of the year that are the hardest. >> translator: my family and i can't celebrate. my son lost his arm, my brother is missing. isil took him as a prisoner. >> reporter: at this camp, more than 50,000 families are from mosul, although they have been welcomed in by muslims and christians of the kurdish region, they still miss their homes. and they are living so close to
the front lines of isil. this priest was forced to leave his home in mosul. >> translator: we like to give our people hope. and we all believe that god is always with us. isil is close to where we are. >> reporter: every year the congregation at this church grows with more displaced christians joining in. many who lost everything, still hold on to the one thing they can, hope. >> i and everybody hope to return to our home. >> translator: 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 isil
fighters, christians have fled, and the local people can only wish that the coming year will be better than the last one. ♪ the german chancellor, angela merkel has thanked the public for helping refugees who have moved into the country this years. she looked back at the ongoing refugee crisis and warned it would present a challenge in 2016. >> translator: there is no question that dealing with the influx of so many people will be demanding. it will cost time, effort, and money, especially in the view of the very important task of integrating those who will stay here permanently. we want and need to learn from mistakes of the past. our values, traditions, understanding of the law, our language, our rules, they make
up our society, and they are a prerequisite for a coexistence in our country. this applies to everyone who wants to live here. well the huge number of refugees who want to start new lives in germany has lead to new centers being set up as they try to settle into their new homes. dominic kane joins us now from one of these rentcenters. >> reporter: barbara this is in east berlin, and run by an organization which translated into english mean's people's solidarity. and that is something that angela merkel has been saying repeatedly in 2015 that she appealed to germans to show solidarity with the refugees and said it was important that
germany take in these people. here in this center, this room i'm in now, the center, there aren't many people here now, but within an hour there will be a special meal here laid on for the hundreds of refugees who have come to this center. now a little earlier, i was speaking to a refugee from syria, who fled raqqa in syria when it was captured and taken over by the islamic state of iraq and the levant, and this is what he had to say. >> in the beginning i went to the [ inaudible ] to make -- to apply for asylum, and after that they give me a [ inaudible ] with a cot, [ inaudible ] interview there, and after i finished all of this stuffs, i fry -- tried to introduce with the german community here.
yeah? it was difficult in the beginning because the language, and the -- yeah. it was difficult, but now it's -- it's perfect, yeah? and i get -- i got -- i got a german course. it was good. and also now, i'm looking -- i'm looking for a german course after the work. yeah, it's a good life for me here. it's safety. yeah, it's perfect. >> dominic the view of one refugee who is happy with the welcome he has had in germany. of course a lot of people faced a lot of difficulties as they rived in europe, have you spoken to people who -- i don't want to say perhaps regret their decision, because they didn't often have a choice, but were surprised by how difficult their arrival to europe was? >> reporter: one of the things,
barbara -- one of the problems the refugees face here in germany. is people talk about the difficulty of learning the language, and that is quite foreign minister to their plight here as it were, because there are many initiatives such as the refugee center here, that help the refugees in terms of the importance of food and water and shelter, and that sort of thing, but they also try to teach them language classes. and there are other initiatives both here in berlin and elsewhere in germany, who try to teach the refugees useful skills, and marry them up professionally with firms that can offer them a internship. but that is a problem, and it is something that certainly angela merkel is not insurmountable, but it is one that they are all confronted by, certainly the
ones who apply for asylum and talk about wanting to put down roots here, but they must get command of the german language, before they are really able to make a reasonable contribution in their point of view, to german society. >> dominic thank you. still lots more, still ahead on al jazeera, including not welcome. china defends its decision not to renew press credentials for a french journalist. and india's gender imbalance, how a difference in the country's male to female ratio could have major consequences. ♪ bring your family and friends together
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♪ now a reminder of the top stories on al jazeera. the battle for the key syrian town has entered its second day, government forces launched a major of offensive backed by russian air power. doctors in one of the last hospitals in the yemeni city of ta'izz are warning that patients could die if they don't get new medical supplies. >> reporter: and angela merkel has said that europe's refugee crisis will remain a challenge in 2016. let's go to the united states now where the mississippi river has risen to dangerous levels after four days of heavy rain. dozens of people have died mostly from driving into flooded areas of missouri, illinois, arkansas, and oklahoma. hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed.
andy roesgen is in the state of missouri, in one of the areas effected by the flooding. tell us what the situation is like where you are. >> reporter: well, barbara, the big trouble right here continues to be the maremac river rest of st. louis. somewhere underneath there, there is a major interstate, flooded west out of st. louis. and the major interstate south of st. louis was always shut down because the river overflowed there as well. and it could be a day or two before these major interstates are reopened again. they cut across the middle of the country, so you can imagine how difficult it has been on travel. as we wait for the flood waters to slowly recede, all of this water heads over to the
mississippi river in st. louis. the good news there is, authorities tell us it won't be so bad here as the record floods in 1993. but as the mississippi then starts rolling southwards towards memphis and new orleans it will gain steam again, and could reach those historic levels of 1993, and exceed them as well. the mississippi will reach memphis -- these flood waters about january 5th. so we'll be watching that, barbara. >> absolutely. an incredibly worrying situation. and incredible pictures behind you. hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. many have had to leave their homes during what is still a holiday season there in the u.s. so where are they? what has been put in place to help them? >> reporter: well, the governor has called in the national guard to help out as well, to help people where they can.
people aren't getting back in their homes yet. the state is really just reacting to all of this happening. they have called a state of emergency, which opens up funding for them. any governor talked to president obama yesterday, and the president said we can help you if you ask for it. but really now the question is when will all of this water go away? it takes about 24 hours to start receding, when it reaches crest, which is right about now. so we're just waiting and hoping it doesn't rise, and wondering where it goes next, and how high it will get as it heads towards memphis and new orleans. >> thank you. a french journalist has been expelled from china for questioning communist party policy. she is the first foreign journalist forced to leave china since 2012 when al jazeera's own
correspondent melissa chan, was expelled. adrian brown reports. >> reporter: she is used to deadlines, and this was one she couldn't miss. china's government has told her to leave the country by midnight on december 31st after a decision not to renew her media cented shalls. >> there is something really ridiculous, crazy, silly, and i just cannot understand it. >> reporter: the authorities had demanded she apologize for an article that it said supported terrorism. the report had suggested china had ulterior motives for declaring solidarity with france after november's attacks in paris. the really reason she implied was to try to win support for the chinese policies in an area holm to a mostly muslim ethnic
minority, known as uyghur. she says she has nothing to be sorry about. >> i cannot apologize about something that i have not written. i didn't write that i supported terrorism. that would have been suicide -- suicide. >> reporter: her home is just around the corner from chai >> stephanie:'s foreign ministry, where an official said the french journalist article has incited the outrage of the chinese people. >> translator: china protects the lawful rights and interests of permanent offices of foreign news agencies and foreign journalists on news coverage in china, but will never tolerate the act of speaking freely on terrorism. >> reporter: is the first foreign journalist to be expelled from china since 2012 since the al jazeera correspondent, melissa chan, was asked to leave this country.
>> this guy was hurling abuse earlier. >> reporter: she has been subjected to death threats and abuse online. one government-controlled newspaper celebrated her expulsion, with a poll purporting to demonstrate overwhelming support for the decision, all part of a campaign that she believes was officially sanctioned. >> my god, it was incredible, and incredibly sexual and dirty. incredibly, even facebook, you know, did censorship. >> reporter: she left china just as a new anti-terrorism law came into effect. the government says the legislation is similar to measures adopted by many western countries, and is not designed to target any ethnic minority. the number of girls living in india has dropped according to recent censor figures. it's an alarming measure.
for years the preference among indian families for sons has lead to the aborting of millions of female fetuses. faiz jamil has more. >> reporter: there are now officially 918 young girls for every 1,000 boys in india. that's a drop from 925 at the start of the century, despite years of government campaigns, making sex-selected abortion illegal, which lead to millions of female fetuses being aborted. but indians are still having fewer girls. social researchers like this woman say it's an issue deep routed in india's culture. >> you are seeing a certain son preference in society that has existed from time [ inaudible ]. so that has been there for many years. but what is new is the new technology that allows this to happen much more easily than in
an earlier era. >> reporter: among the different communities, hindus recorded the largest drop in girls being born followed by muslims and christians. two communities already had among the worst statistic in the country. experts say has lead and will continue to cause social, economic, and ethical problems. >> we need to confront that -- the policies that we're applying to this are wrong. they are not working. and you need a much larger consultation with women and so on to actually see that this violence being done to women stops right from the womb itself. >> reporter: another worry is that if this continues it could lead to more human trafficking in some parts of the country to help men who can't find women to
marry. even some affluent areas of city show a greater sex ratio. the number of girls being born continues to decline. faiz jamil, al jazeera, new delhi. a new set of u.n. global goals will come into effect on january 1st. one aims to end extreme poverty by 2030. nearly half of the world's population, more than 3 billion people live in poverty. in the second part of our series on the u.n.'s goals, david mercer visited a town in rural guatemala. >> reporter: inside this shock, this woman prepares food for her family. but with five children to support and a job that pays only a few dollars a someday, meeting her family's needs a struggle. the 48 year old says she is doing the best she can.
>> translator: i never went to school, and my husband only finished third grade. i can't read or write, so it's difficult to help my family. i tell all of my children they have to study hard to get ahead, so they don't end up poor like us. >> reporter: she depends on unregulated informal work. seven days a week, she makes corn tortillas to sell, but increased competition means she has to charge less while her costs continue to rise. >> translator: it's not much, but it's enough to sustain my children. it's important to administer the money well, and find ways to make it last. >> reporter: in january a new set of united nations development goals will come into effect. one key objective is to cut global poverty in half by 2030 and eradicate extreme poverty completely. the set of goals has been called a blueprint for the future,
giving governments a focal point and a way for ngo's to assess their progress. while though world bank predicts global poverty will fall below 10% by the end of the year. in guatemala, the poor are actually getting poorer. raising the standard of living of nearly half of the population will prove difficult. >> reporter: the problem isn't just that there's lots of poverty. it's that there's massive inequality. if we don't look at things in an interconnected way, and how our economic system is structured, then we can't reduce poverty. >> reporter: when 2030 rolls around what kind of life will her children have in much will depend on how committed gall maul la and the community are to the new development goals, and cut back poverty at its routes. david mercer, al jazeera, guatemala. 2016 is already underway in
many parts of the world. celebrating the theme city of color, sydney hosted two fireworks displays, launching a total of 7 tons of fireworks. ip it included 25,000 shooting comets. more on the website. >> i'm nidhi dutt, in indonesia, where orangutan conservationists are climbing to new heights. >> and i'm russell beard in flanders in belgium, to meet to meet the urban