♪ [ 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 in the next 30 minutes. fighting to save yemen's children. doctors warn that lives will be lost without more medical supplies. i'm dominic kane here with a
combination of good food and goodwill is on the menu for these asylum seekers, looking to make a new life in germany. and the world welcomes in the new year. ♪ hello, there, thank you for joining us. a battle is underway in syria that could have a big impact on the course of the country's war. government forces backed by russian fighter jets have launched a major campaign to recapture a key city that controls routes to the south of the country from the capitol damascus. but 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 either destroyed or forced to retreat. but the army backed by russian fighter jets say the fight is almost over. and that the city will soon be under itself 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 we are -- i don't have enough personnel in order to fight. so accordingly, the russians are here, trying to, you know, limit the spillover, or spill back of the a-- regime. the rebels have captured most of the towns.
dara is crucial for both sides. 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 on the edge of damascus. it's a vital supply route for groups in the area. there are many armed groups operating here. mainly al-nusra front, free syrian fighters, and other fighters. the opposition has called on the rebels to set their differences aside and defend the town. a defeat of 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, southern
turkey. russian forces are carried out more than 5,000 air strikes since september, targeting various rebel groups. government forces had been losing ground in the west to factions. >> the russian arrival is like game changer. it added more military assets, more air power, more intelligen intelligence. since we know earlier when president assad said i don't have enough personnel in order to fight, so accordingly the russians are here, trying to, you know, limit the spill over, or spill back of the regime. a key government leader has been shot dead in aden. meanwhile in nearby ta'izz one of the last working hospitals says it came under attack on wednesday. rob matheson has more 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 at a hospital killing a child. medical staff are struggling to cope. at this hospital in ta'izz, they plead for more oxygen supplies. >> translator: we are protesting today because we are no longer able to save our patients. they arrive injured, but we cannot help them. there's no oxygen or surgical equipment. >> reporter: family and friends are having to bring in their own oxygen bottles. >> translator: i had to get it from outside of the hospital because none are available here. >> reporter: the united nations says more than 21 million
yemenis now need humanitarian aid, that's roughly 80% of the population. but aide agencies they houthi fighters aren't allowing the supplies through. some of the aid is now being supplied by saudi arabia. both sides have been criticized for the number of civilians killed and injured in bombing campaigns. >> there are attacks on some of ours and other organization trucks either by military people or non-military people who are attacking that humanitarian aid, and we are calling on all of those people that you have violating international law. >> reporter: the patients are unlikely to care where the aid comes from, just as long as it comes. rob matheson, al jazeera. iraqi officials say the
battle 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 camping 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. meanwhile the iraqi prime minister is promising to turn his attention to mosul next. the country's second largest city. it has been under control since last year. and that has lead to the displacement of hundreds of thousands. many have escaped to erbil from
where our correspondent reports. >> reporter: the holidays haven't been the same for the last two years, since this boy lost his arm in a car bomb explosion. 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 rived in mosul and told christians to pay a new tax or leave. 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 is this camp for displaced christians more than 50,000 families are from mosul, although they have been welcomed
in, they still miss their homes. they are uneasy living so close to the front lines of isil. >> translator: we like to give our people hope, and we all believe that god is always with us. isil is very close to where we are. it's a threat not only for the christians, but all peace-loving muslims in kurdistan. >> reporter: many who lost everything still hold on to the one thing they can, hope. >> i and everybody hope to go back 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 who have sheltered them can only wish that the coming year will be better than the last one. 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 stalled last july. 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 and then 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. ♪ the german chancellor, angela merkel has thanked the public for helping refugees who has moved to the country this year. he looked at the ongoing refugee crisis and warned they would also represent 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 important task of integrating those who will stay here permanently. we want and need to learn from mistakes of the past. our values, traditions, and understanding of the law, our language, our laws, our rules, they make up our society, and they are a prerequisite from a
coexistence in our country. this applies to anyone who wants to live here. chancellor angela merkel have set up centers to help the refugee starting new lives in germany. dominic, we're just a few hours away from new year's eve there in germany. what is happening at the center where you are? >> reporter: barbara, the center i'm in here operated by the charity which deals with people's solidarity, as you can see, food is being handed out, and families are dining. it's a special menu that is putting on for the refugees tonight. and later on there will be particular new year's eve festivity to the meal that is being provided. and this center cares for around 300 people. many of whom have come from the
world conflict zones. i have spoken to one refugee who managed to flee from the islamic state of iraq and the levant. he told me about the journey he had taken to get here. and certainly here at the center, the organizers talk about the need for facilitating their logistical issues, and there are volunteers too who give up their time to provide food and opportunities to some of the refugees here. joining me is alexandra, who is a volunteer who works from time to time here at the center. can you tell me what made you want to get involved in this charitable way. >> three or four months ago when this huge influx came to germany, i just thought now -- i mean they are here, and now i want to help, actually help. >> reporter: and what have you been able to do? >> so here i was when all of the residents arrived the first night, so there was plenty of
work to do to organize all of the rooms and everything. and then when they arrived, we bring them to their rooms, and so this was a long night, and very exhausting for all of us. >> reporter: and then i understand that you were involved around christmas with trying to prepare something special for people here. >> yeah. >> reporter: what were you able to give the people here? >> a lot of joy, actually, that was the main intention, and actually it worked. a lot of friends and family, and some organizations helped to make it possible. and we had gifts for all of our 70 children. >> reporter: angela merkel talks about the refugees needing to integrate into society, and that goes both ways from the immigrants and germans. if the there was one thing the government to do to help the situation, what would it be?
>> that's a good question. money. just make it more easy to get the money. they already like organized for all of this, so the money exists already, so there is a plan, but make it easier to get to it. that's one thing. money. >> reporter: thank you for talking to us. that's a picture of what the volunteers working with the refugees in germany think about the situation, what they would have the government do to improve the situation here in germany. and as you can see behind me, the families are taking in the goodwill and good food on offer, and certainly they are hoping that their future is assured in germany in 2016. >> dominic kane thank you. belgian prosecutors say another man has been arrested in connection with the paris attacks in november. a 22-year-old man has been
charged with terrorist murder, and participation in a terrorist organization. he was arrested on wednesday during a house search. he is the tenth suspect in belgi belgi belgian arrested in connection with the paris attacks. iran's president orders an expansion of missile program after a threat from the u.s. to reimpose sanctions.
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welcome back. here is a reminder of the top stories on al jazeera. the battle for a key syrian town has entered its second day. government forces launched a major offensive, backed by russian air power, but rebel groups are fighting to hold the city. iraqi officials say the fight to retake ramadi has destroyed 80% of the city. isil still controls some districts. and 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 more medical supplies. the iranian president has ordered an expansion of the country's ballistic missile development program. the announcement is seen as a direct response to reports that the united states is planning a new round of financial sanctions against iran over ballistic missiles tests. iran con testimony -- condemned
the report, saying it has a right to develop the missiles as long as they are not carrying nuclear war heads. rosiland jordan joining us from washington. this seems to hinge on whether the ballistics missiles program was part of the nuclear agreement that the two sides and other countries signed a few month's back. >> reporter: that's right. the u.s.'s view, barbara is the ballistic missiles program has a lot of problems itself, because it too is under international sanctions from the united nations. now what the u.s. has basically said is that it is looking at imposing new sanctions, although it won't say against whom because of two recent ballistic missile tests. the most recent one happened in october, just about two and a half months ago. now the "wall street journal" reported overnight that the
sanctions would involve persons and businesses in hong kong, abu dhabi and iran, but an administration official will only say that the u.s. is looking at a way to respond to what it considers violations of international regulations concerning iran's ballistic missiles program. well, the president of iran has said that he wants an expansion of this program as you noted, barbara, and that's because, he says that iran does have a right to protect its citizens from attack, and so he has been even speaking out on twitter, trying to make the case why expanding the program is justified in his view. >> so the iranians obviously not backing down on this issue. do we know how the u.s. is likely to respond to this? >> reporter: the u.s. is looking into these reports right now, and we're waiting for some sort of response from the obama
administration, but overnight they did say that the gist of the "wall street journal" story was correct in that there has to be some sort of response, even if it is a unilateral response from the united states. it does not believe that iran should be engaging in this sort of behavior, because of the possible spillover into trying to use it with any possible nuclear war heads, the very thing that the deal was supposed to prevent in the first place. >> rosiland jordan with the latest from washington, d.c. thank you. staying in the united states, 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 has this report from one of the areas effected by the flooding.
>> reporter: well, the governor has called in the national guard to help out as well, to help people where they can. people are not getting back into their homes just yet. the state is really just reacting to what is happening. they have declared a state of emergency, which opens up funding for them. 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 now we're wondering where it goes next, and how high it will get. india's sex ratio among children has fallen. the ratio measures the number of girls for every thousand boys in the same age groups.
it's a crucial measure in a country where for years the preference for sons has resulted in millions of aborted fetuses. >> reporter: despite years of government campaigns making sex-selected abortions illegal, which lead to tens of millions of female fetuses being aborted. but indians are still having fewer girls. social researchers like pamela say it's an issue deep routed in india's culture. >> you are seeing a certain son preference in society that has existed over time. that has been there for many years. but what is new is the new technology that allows this to
happen much more easily an in an earlier era. >> reporter: hindus reported the largest drop in girls being born, followed by muslims and christians. two communities already had among the worst staticic in the country. experts say has lead and will continue to cause social, economic, and ethical problems. >> we need to confront that the policies we are applying to this are wrong. they are not working, and you need a much larger consultation with women and so on to see that this violence being done to women stops right from the womb itself. >> reporter: another worry is if this tins it could lead to more human trafficking in some parts of the country to help men who can't find women to marry.
india's capitol is no different. while literacy and education rates have gone up even among women, the number of girls being born continues to decline. cities arrange the world are on high security alert as they usher in 2016. the usual fireworks displays have been canceled in the french and belgian capitols, but everywhere, celebrations so far have overshadoweded security fears. [ cheers ] >> reporter: celebrating the theme city of colors, sydney hosted two fireworks displays, launching a total of 7 tons of fireworks. it includes 25,000 shooting comets, and a hundred thousand
pyrotechnic displays. and in the past few hours, the countdown reached zero at tokyo tower. a cloud of white balloons was released as japan celebrated 2016. and taiwan launched its new year from its tallest building. the theme was nature is the future, and to compensate for the carbon emissions the capitol's lights will go dark over the coming days. the news of 2015 has been dominated by the -- battle against isil. as the year draws to a close, al jazeera is looking back on some of our biggest stories this year. ♪ >> people die. and they are dead. >> reporter: in syria. ♪
[ explosion ] >> reporter: fighter jets launched air strikes on the divided city of aleppo. in yemen devastation has become a norm. >> no other choice. it's a war. ♪ >> we want to go to europe. >> reporter: many of the migrants here are not happy they are returning to libya. >> reporter: here comes another bolt. no matter what triggered this mass movement of people, the war in syria, or germny's implied promise to take all of them in, or the false promise of the people smugglers, there is no easy way of stopping it. >> reporter: they have given up everything to make this journey, and they say there will be no going back. >> reporter: your family got across, and you are stuck here? [ screaming ] [ sobbing ]
>> reporter: walking to germany. >> reporter: it's a very, very long way. these people have been here for more than two hours in a standoff. [ sobbing ] >> reporter: there is a somber realization of the people and the places they have left behind. ♪ >> we had -- have to take care of them. ♪ >> they are having a honeymoon. >> reporter: they are telling me this is the first time they have smiled since they got here. ♪ >> you just top the war.
we don't want to go to europe. just stop the war, just that. ♪ >> some of the most powerful pictures from 2015, more on our website. aljazeera.com. >> announcer: this is techno a show about innovations ta can save lives. it's a show about science by scientists. let's check out the team of hard-core nerves. we go on the road to caltech. dr crystal dilworth is a scientist. tonight jelly fish - how it can