outbreak. the news continues live from london, next. syrian troops backed by russian airstrikes close in on aleppo. the opposition says they're undermining talks in geneva. lime lauren taylor, we are live from london. cruz control, a front runner emerges in the u.s. presidential candidate and it's not donald trump. securing a deal on reforming the e.u. ahead of the referendum on britain's membership. how the world health others is stepping up a gear fighting against the zika virus.
talks about ending the syria civil war continue in switzerland while fighting on the ground intensifies. a major offensive in the north of aleppo, several towns were captured. trying to cut rebel supply lines to aleppo and also to the turkish border, with support of russian strikes captured two towns. the aim is to breakthrough rebel held territory to reach the pro government villages. by doing this, the government would cut off rebel fighters in the north and prevent reinforcements from getting through. we have a report from southern turkey close to the syrian border.
>> with the help of russian heir, the government is advancing, civilians are caught in the crass fire and the heavy bombardment forcing many families to leave. >> look at the situation, look at those people arriving. all the roads are closed. they're surrounded by the regime and isil. where should people go? there are no homes and no camps. >> he was once a free syrian army commander in aleppo and explained the objective of the government's military campaign, the army, he said is pushing north towards the loyalist towns. those towns are predominantly shia and they are on a highway that runs between the turkish border and rebel held districts in the divided city of aleppo. >> it won't be a good situation for us. they are in effect military bases.
there are fighters and weapons there. >> rebels are fighting back hard. if they lose ground, their stronghold inside aleppo city will be cut off from the rest of the province. >> there has been no easing of the conflict on the ground despite the effort to reduce the violence. the offensive is the latest government push against rebel strongholds across the country but northern syria is strategic for armed groups because the turkish border has been their lifeline. >> russia's intervention changed the dynamics on the ground. the air campaign over recent months has targeted rebel supply lines from turkey as well as the so-called moderate groups that operate under the f.s.a. flag. >> the russians as well as the regime and even the u.s. want to eliminate the free syrian army. they want to say there is no free syrian army and no revolution and the choice will be between the regime or
the terrorists. >> the battle has reached a crucial stage for aleppo. an opposition defeat here would be a major strategic loss and symbolic blow to the revolution. it is the latest stronghold for armed groups in the north who fight under the banner of the free syrian army. while the fighting rages in aleppo, representatives of the government and opposition are in geneva for talks. we are live in geneva. how are those events on the ground in syria affecting prospects of those talks? >> they are certainly calling into question the commitment of the international community to actually. one of the things that we've heard so much from the opposition here in the past few days is that they don't trust the syrian regime are calling
into question very much the international communities commitment to peace in syria and help for the syrian people. today, really, the whole idea of these talks is sort of coming under question. you know, once news broke that there would be no meeting between the h.n.c., the main opposition negotiating body here put a lot of question marks as far as what is going to happen in the days ahead, if these talks are going to be continuing and at what pace exactly. a few hours back, we did hear from the spokesperson from the high negotiations committee. let's listen to what was said. >> we don't have that little clip lined up hypocritical
to gain military momentum in the battle there. you see that it's played out throughout the day. we're getting reports from my colleague, zeina saying from turkey that more opposition fighters are being encircled in aleppo, that because of the russian help, that really rebel held territory is being taken back by the regime more and more these past few days. also you have the russians critical once again of players here on the part of the opposition. russia in the past had very ve as i have russly objected to two key actors involved in the opposition being here. they have called them on many occasions terrorists, saying they should not be part of the negotiating team. they are here, all part of the h.n.c. here now, as well. russia acknowledging that those players were here, saying they could be here on an individual or personal capacity but they were terrorist groups and shouldn't be part of the negotiation. you look all around, and from
not being able to hold meetings that were originally scheduled to more criticism from the international community of some of the key actors here to all the resentments that are being voids by the syrian regime and opposition pointing to the fact that there is a lot of chaos and confusion surrounding these talks and a lot less optimism today than yesterday when it seemed in the evening that some momentum had finally been achieved. >> live in geneva, thank you. >> he made comments during a conference in rome, involving 28 nations involved in the coalition fight against isil. kerry thinks isil had been pushed back in iraq and syria but civilian suffering is as bald as it's ever been. >> our advances are clear. they are undeniable. we have launched nearly 10,000 airstrikes. we have interrupted their
finance mechanisms. they've had to cut the salaries of their fighters. we have interrupted their capacity to get revenue by going after the oil sites. we are hammering their heavy weapons, their training camps, their infrastructures. we are closing in on full control of the syria-turkey border. >> al jazeera has been following events in rome. >> libya account potentially become the second battleground in the fight against isil because for the international community, this is a huge concern. they've seen isil expanding in a coastal area that stretches from sirte towards the west. we are talking about 160-kilometer of a vocal area that could easily be used as a platform to launch attacks against europe. this is exactly why the international coalition is now looking into options. one of these options is larging
airstrikes against isil in libya. the best scenario is basically to have a national unity government with a national army to ache on isil. they know against the back group of a political divide in libya, that could take time, therefore. their looking into gathering more intelligence about isil, the potential targets and trying to equip and train local allies in libya to be ready for the moment when they start the military actions against isil in libya. >> in spite the war in yemen, migrants travel through to get to saudi arabia and other gulf countries. the conflict may be making it easier for smugglers to operate. migrants say they have nothing to loose.
>> this is the human trafficking hub. migrants want to cross the gulf and on wards to gulf neighbors. they arrive every day. it's alleged proximity have made this a departure point. the men and occasional woman are easy to spot. they are the idle ones waiting. he is one of them. >> my dream is to get to saudi arabia. i'm waiting for the smugglers here. 300 of us will be taken by boat this evening. >> at the town's main market, business is brisk. smugglers and their middle negotiators can be seen haggling over prices with traders. their vehicles are never far. outside a big group has arrived.
they are carrying little more than a bottle of water and hope they are heading towards a better life. this is just one leg of a journey that for most started in ethiopia or eritrea. they are kept outside of town, away from the glare of the police. some are fleeing persecution of their government. >> we were protesting the grabbing of our land outside addis ababa by our government. we were arrested and beaten. i decided to leave immediately. >> the migrants are also from the conflict in yemen. >> the people smugglers kept them misinformed about the war there. friction from the u.n. international migration discourage the migrants from taking the dangerous boat trips. some wish to return home. some say they have nowhere to go
back to. they now live in this refugee camp for refugees who fled war in their country. he will remain here for as long as possible. al jazeera. still to come on the program, tensions run high. the refugees wanting rite of passage at the greece macedonia border. >> more than 50,000 people left stranded at a chinese train station.
a remind herb of the top stories on al jazeera. syrian government forces launched a major offensive near aleppo, capturing several strategic towns with the help of russian airstrikes. >> secretary of state john kerry said syria humanitarian crisis is the worst since world war ii. the zika virus outbreak could spread to africa and asia. the zika virus has been declared an international emergency. w.h.o. set up a global response unit and is drawing up guidelines for pregnant women. >> the problem is that the complications of this relatively mild illness do have potentially
devastating effects for families. to have a child with the disease and have a tenfold in numbers and potential for spread not just across latin america but into africa and asia which have the highest birth rates in the world we believe is a a matter of public health concern and constitutes an international emergency. >> zika virus has found its way into 24 countries. in venezuela, the health system is struggling to cope. >> at the center for tropical diseases, doctors are confronting a disease they know very little about, and for which local official authorities gave no warning. zika, the mosquito borne virus expected to affect 4 million people around the world is being dice nodes through its symptoms, fever, joint pain and skin
rashes. for this lab director, doctors are trailing far behind the virus and the countries dire economic situation is only bound to make things worse. >> we have very limited tools basically because we have no reactors for diagnose, but we also lack action to and syringes. there's a general lack of supplies. >> what many doctors find even more alarming is the lack of information about the zeke virus from the minute city of health and what that says about the country's health system. >> we are facing the perfect storm. we are in a country with a fair ball sways and severe shortage was everything and on top of that an emergency. we can't manage the emergency. the dimension of this crisis far exceeds the capabilities of the health ministry. >> despite first reported in october, the ministry of health recognized the first cases of zika virus last thursday.
it puts the official number at 4500. doctors say that is actually close to say 400 cases. the government has yet to discuss that discrepancy. >> people anticipated that zika virus was going to happen. the virus has been here at least a month. there should have been a statement from health officials. >> there is a hike in cases of the a syndrome linked to the virus that can lead to paralysis. the ministry of health stopped publishing epidemiology statistics over a year ago. in the beyond, the results of the iowa caucus vote shows how close the race for each party's presidential nomination will be. on the democratic side, hillary clinton and bernie sanders were
almost tied for support with clinton, .4% made on 49.9. the support of just 6% martin o'malley has now suspended his campaign. on the republican side, ted cruz is surging ahead of the man who had stolen all the headlines ahead of the vote, donald trump. marco rubio was just over a personal point behind him with three other candidates, including jeb bush failing to get more than 10%. let's get more on this live from des moines. how do republicans interpreting this result in iowa? >> well, they are interpreting it much as the des moines register is, the newspaper here, with ted cruz being clearly the winner in this race. it was a race that donald trump was expected to win. he was points ahead, but what apparently happened is all of those new voters that he was supposed to bring in did not
overwhelm the cruz people. cruz brought in evangelical and they brought him over the top. for donald trump who once tweeted nobody remembers who came in second, this was a surprising experience. marco rubio has a new lease on life as they enter new hampshire. >> tell us about why iowa is so significant generally in the whole political scene there. talk us through why it's important. >> iowa's the first vote out of the 50 states and it really helps to win know down the candidate. only one president in the past 40 years has been elected after losing both iowa and new hampshire, so these early states are very important, even if they're not entirely representative. that penalty was bill clinton. what has happened here, you have martin o'malley drop out of the democratic race, leaving hillary
clinton and bernie sanders. in the republican field, you've got a clear lead of three people, ted cruz, donald trump and marco rubio. you've got people who have dropped out, mike huckabee, and people like jeb bush who was presumed to be the front runner early on in the race and former h.p. executive carly fiorina registering single digits. it's questionable how long they can continue if they walk out of new hampshire with those same numbers. iowa is very important in framing the race and later on, in other states, they are going to continue to win know down this field, but these early states are incredibly important when it comes to showing strength or weakness early on for these candidates. >> indeed, just as we've talked to you, we've seen hillary clinton already in new hampshire as one of the key ones. hundreds of refugees on the greek border in macedonia are
blocking the main highway demanding passage. a large group is heading north on the road into macedonia. there have been clashes with police as frustration grows with a lock of movement. >> the e.u. threatened to expel greece from the schengen free travel zone. we have a report from the greece macedonia border. >> on this northern greece border, you can see how dysfunctional management of the refugee crisis that become. only letting through afghans,
iraqis and syrians, that means a palestinian brought up as a refugee in syria is in a better position than others much like him. >> i met other guys from lebanon. they are palestinian. they have papers and they are not allowed. they took them back to athens. >> these so-called illegals have the no choice but oh to risk the mountain passes and forests and the macedonian police. this algerian was preparing to try it for a third time. >> there you can't stay algeria, but stay outside. i sleep here, i'm sleeping there. >> what are the police like in macedonia? >> police are shouting, and like this, and do your hands like that, go flat. >> the border camp has pakistanis, iranians, morrocans and others who will never have a chance of an asylum claim. the european union condemned greece for letting them through and praised macedonia for keeping them out. >> the greece have been threatened with expulsion from the schengen open borders area if they keep letting everybody through. the government insists it can't be the place where all the refugees and migrants end up, so the buses keep coming. the consequences of that is
there is a flourishing trade now for people smugglers. >> every night it's the same, the albanian smuggling bands hire migrants to show others the way and off they go into the woods, where stories abound of being robbed by other smugglers or beaten by the macedonian police. the greek police watch them all go into the darkness and they did nothing. by the next morning, another 1200 arrived just down the road. many will have an asylum claim. others will not. another 6,000 were on the way from athens, yet there is little sign of greece trying to stop them. >> they say they're from the area and they send them back to us. the rest with the false paper, i don't think the greek authority realize who has those kind of papers or not. >> this early in the year, some
things are becoming clear, turkey cannot stop them making the sea crossing, greece cannot control its borders and the european union is counting on macedonia which is not even a member state to be its new frontier. it's out of control. violent gangs make a foreign from it. al jazeera, on the greece macedonia border. spains acting prime minister is meeting the king to wrap up negotiations to form a government. the head of the socialist party offered to lead talks between the parties of the former government to break a political deadlock. the deadline is this month. if that doesn't happen, a new national election will be called. they can knee i can't accuses instagram of bowing to pressure from the u.s. to take down a website. the post showed russian foreign prime minister showing him ape
gun sight. reform proposals aim to -- the british prime minister hammered out a deal with e.u. officials. now he must sell it to his own people. >> we want to have a europe where we are not a super state but proud and independent, a europe that is competitive, respects our currency and treats us fairly and we want to europe that takes the pressure off in terms of migration. >> mr. cameron has held extensive talks with the president of the e.u. council in recent weeks. mr. cameron was pushing for a better deal for britain. mr. tuks wanted to accommodate but had to keep the other 27e.u.
countries happy. what have they agreed? among the key points in the e.u. negotiation, a restriction on social benefits that e.u. citizens can claim in britain the first four years. new limit on british social benefits that e.u. workers able to send to their children still living abroad. >> a guarantee to british taxpayers their money won't be used to bail out troubled countries in the euro zone. they sound like dry details but big issues are at stake. those campaigning for britain to leave the e.u. will now try to persuade them that the prime minister has failed to win significant concessions. >> he has made absolutely no progress on genuine controls for people who can come into the country. he has not got back our power to make trade deals with countries outside the e.u. with that russia controls our trade policy. he hasn't reduced our budget
contributions one iota. >> the proposals go before our leaders this month for their agreement. if they sign up, david cameron could announce that the wrench rem will be as soon as june. >> here in westminster and the in the british media, the campaign has effectively begun and the polls suggest the result will be close. european leaders are frustrated with britain's demands but would like to see britain stay in the e.u., not least because of this countries diplomatic and military significance. european leaders will be watching political events in britain very closely over the next few months. barnaby phillips, al jazeera, westminster in central london. >> 52,000 train passengers are stranded because of heavy snow. 175,000 people were scheduled to leave but most of them heading home to celebrate chinese new
year. the train station can only hold 43,000 commuters. the delayed passengers held in makeshift sheds. more four at any time on our website at aljazeera.com. >> ted cruz taking the title of top dog in iowa with the gop. >> now we willas astound the world again! >> after a near miss, bernie sanders looking to new hampshire. crosby going to court, trying to get the sexual assault cases against him thrown