syria's president defies calls for cessation of hostilities. bashar al-assad vows to retake the entire country. ♪ hello there i'm felicity barr. and you are watching al jazeera, live from london. also coming up. doctors protest in egypt after the release of police officers accused of attacking their colleagues. farmers fury. tractors drive to greece's parliament in a protest against more austerity measures. and the roman catholic pope
arrives in cuba to end a 1,000-year divide in the christian faith. as you can see we're live in havana. ♪ hello. syria's president says his forces will retake the whole country, but believes negotiations are worth pursuing. he was speaking as world powers discuss the implementation of a proposed cessation of hostilities set to begin in a week. despite the diplomacy in germany, the violence continues on the ground. russia air strikes have reportedly killed 18 people in homs. six were killed in air strikes east of damascus, and two more died in daraa. >> translator: we have fully believed in negotiations since the beginning of this crisis. however, if we negotiate, it
does not mean we stop fighting terrorism. first through negotiations, and second through fighting terrorism. >> zana hoda is in the turkish city on the border with syria, and she filed this report on the situation on the ground. >> reporter: clearly the syrian president speaking from a position of strength. just a few months ago, last july, he was described as an embattled leader for the first time in a public address he made a rare admission that the army is suffering from a lack of manpower, and what he also said was the army is now forced to concentrate on securing what he called the crucial territories, meaning damascus, the heartland of the alawite community. now he is saying their aim is to recapture the whole of syria even though it will take a long time. at the time the go was suffering
losses on the ground. they lost the province of idlib, the provincial capitol fell to the opposition. but ever since russia intervened in the conflict in early october, the balance of power on the ground shifted in favor of the government, and they are still continuing those advances on the ground, and right now the opposition is on the retreat, they are defending territory, and they feel these efforts to try to bring a cessation of hostilities really is just aimed at giving think syrian government and its backer, russia enough time to take even more land and weaken the opposition further. >> reporter: rebel fighters underthe need to hold ground on this front line. if they are defeated the syrian government and its allies will be one step closer to the rebel held east of aleppo city where tens of thousands of people live. after losing much territory, the opposition is trying to prevent its strong hold from being
besieged. >> translator: they are killing us, but we will remain steadfast. we are still on the front lines. we will liberate every inch of territory they have captured. we won't surrender. we are here. >> reporter: within a week the bombardment is supposed to stop, but the russian u.s. agreement is being received with scepticism on the ground. >> translator: i don't think the international community represented by the u.s. and russia is serious about a ceasefire. they are postponing the peace talks to give the regime more time to make more ground. >> reporter: the government is on the offensive in more than one corner of syria. towards.coms that cuss the aerial bombardment is intensifying, and the u.n. is warning that the 120,000 people
inside risk hunger and disease. members of the opposition inside and outside of syria have told us they have little faith in the syrian government and itself backer, russia. they say the munich deal will only give them time to take our ground. but a cause in the fighting and the deliver of much needed aid to the hundreds of thousands trapped in besieged areas cannot come fast enough for the people. the battle has left more than 50,000 people homeless, adding to the millions who have been displaced over the years. >> translator: what have the people done to deserve this. they are not sparing anyone. it has been five years and we continue to suffer from their oppression. this is enough. >> reporter: the conflict has laid waste to much of aleppo and the rest of syria, the government and its alleys are confident they are close to a
victory. but claims of victory will have little meaning for anyone without a wider peace. efforts to secure that wider peace are being made at the annual security conference in munich. foreign ministers have been speaking about their visions for syria's future. >> in syria, we are working to bring about change -- political change if possible to what is happening in syria in order to remove the man who is responsible for the murder of 300,000, the displacement of 12 million, and the destruction of a nation. the man who is the single most effective magnet for extremists and terrorists in the region. that's our objective. >> we believe there is nothing in our region that would exclude iran and saudi arabia working together for a better future for
all of us. we believe we face common threats. we believe isil al-nusra, extremists in general, are as much a threat to our brothers in saudi arabia as they are to the rest of the region, even more. so we are bound by a common destiny of a threat that has problems with our brothers in turkey. has problems with our brothers in saudi arabia, in the region, even in pakistan, afghanistan, and central asia. >> let's take a closer look now at the humanitarian crisis in syria, which the u.n. says get worse every day. it is highlighting the dire situation in these towns. madaya is just outside of damascus and has been surrounded by government troops since december. in madaya at least 26 people
have died from mall knew tries this year, and hundreds of people need immediate evacuation. about 200,000 people living under isil imposed siege where fighters have reportedly executed people who are trying to smuggle in food. and despite recent aid deliveries to these two villages, the situation remains grim for 20,000 people under siege by armed groups, including al-nusra front. let's get more now on what is happening on the ground in syria, joining us live via skype is the person who runs northern syrian aid operations. if you could start by explaining what the situation is like now on the ground in northern syria, especially in aleppo. >> the situation is very grim in
aleppo. we have seen tens of thousands of people displaced, people leaving their homes to -- in pursuit of safety, so people living in northern aleppo -- or moving, sorry to northern aleppo, towards the turkish boarder, leaving everything they have, and settling primarily in preexisting camps and also villages and towns around that area. and in aleppo city we see a population with a growing concern about the possibility of a siege situation. >> i was going to ask you, how does the situation in aleppo compare to what we have been seeing in madaya, which was a definite siege situation. is aleppo heading that way? >> well, it's a little bit different, but aleppo is -- actually largest city preconflict, but not the case anymore. aleppo is home to over
1.5 million people. 400,000 of those living in non-government-controlled parts. as we look at the situation today, it changes, it shifts with an increased tightening of the roots and the access points into aleppo city. so the most direct route for humanitarian assistance into aleppo city has been cut off since almost a week now. it needs humanitarian agencies with only one route, and very inconsistent, unreliable route for delivering assistance to the communities that are very much in need of it. we serve 66,000 people in aleppo city with food on a monthly basis. that's 66,000 people that depend on us as an organization, and ours -- half of our teams on the ground and our partners to make sure they meet their basic day-to-day needs. >> i really appreciate your
time. thanks so much. ♪ now thousands of egyptian doctors have been protesting against alleged abuse by the police. say they officers who attacked their colleagues have not been held accountable. the doctors are now threatening to go on strike as paul brennan reports. >> reporter: this is a rare scene on the streets of cairo, thousands of doctors, who have had enough of what they say is abuse by the police. their accusations come after two doctors were reportedly beaten up by police while at work in a cairo hospital last month. the doctors who said in televised interviews that a policeman pulled a gun on them over the dispute of the medical treatment of an officer. doctors threatened to begin a gradual strike if the police are
not held accountable. >> translator: the protest is to prefend emergency doctors across egyptian hospitals. we are not only faced with aggression from patient's relatives, but also from the police, who are supposed to be defending young doctors who are supposed to work in a safe environment. >> reporter: such demonstrations are rare. under president sisi large demonstrations are effectively banned in egypt. but the doctors say they will not be silenced. they say they are protecting their professional dignity. five u.n. peace keepers have been killed and another 30 injured in an attack on a base in northern mali. shelling hit the camp earlier on friday, and people reported seeing u.n. helicopters in the sky and hearing an exchange of
gunfire outside of the city. no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. the international criminal court case against the kenyan deputy president has been dealt a blow. witness testimony linked him to the violence in which 1200 people died. for more on what that means, catherine soi filed this update. >> reporter: the appeals chamber basically said that admitting such evidence would be unfair to the accused because the witnesses were not cross-examined. this is a big blow to the prosecutor -- or to the prosecution. the chief prosecutor said without the evidence her case is
greatly weakens, because they directly link the defendants to some of the crimes they are accused of. she said the witnesses were bribed or intimidated by people associated with the defendants. what happens next? two things, either the prosecution drops the charges, something many say might not hatch, or the trial judges rule in favor of another case to answer -- no case to answer motion which was filed by the defense. the defense saying that there was no evidence against the two witnesses are not credible. the prosecution, of course, will be trying to argue otherwise. there has been violence between greek farmers and riot police in athens. it is the latest in weeks of demonstrations against the country's left-wing government, which is trying to introduce new financial reforms. neave barker is in the capitol, and send this report.
>> reporter: protesting farmers attack riot police with sheperds crooks as an angry crowd tries to form the ministry of agriculture. many of these farmers had traveled from the island of crete to join a day of demonstrations that began with violence. from across the country, farmers converged on athens in the thousands. this group came in convoy. in the last two weeks farmers have staged at least 70 blockades on highways across the country. now they are taking their anger to the capitol. >> the country is the people. these are not going to help the people. they are going to destroy them. not only the farmers, most of society. >> reporter: in the scare in athens close to parliament some protesters have pitched tents. they say they will be here for several days.
>> translator: we have come here to protest with determination and decisiveness. we won't leave here until we have found justice. >> reporter: last year the greek government signed an agreement with its lenders that if it introduces a craft of deep-seeded economic reforms, it would have access to a $95 billion bailout. the greek government says the reforms are not matter of choice. they are a matter of necessity. changes these farmers say will make their small businesses no longer viable. tractors stopped by police on the edges of the city were allowed into the square. greeks have experienced soaring prizes, volatile protests, and violent elections, many question what this new wave of demonstrations will achieve. all right. still ahead on the program, what
temporary halt in hostility in the coming days. and there have been violent scenes in athens between police and thousands of farmers during an anti austerity protest. an agreement signed one year ago was supposed to end fighting between ukraine and pro-russian separatists. charles stratford reports. >> reporter: these children used to live in an orphanage and now they live in a war zone. brought up in poverty, and two with severe learning disabilities. they all now live with their adoptive parents in the so-called gray zone between pro-russian separatists fighters
and the ukrainian army. the fighting continues, and especially at night. >> translator: nadia is also very afraid when there is telling. she cries and screams at night. we try to keep the girls calm. we not to show them that we are afraid. >> reporter: an agreement signed last february in minsk was supposed to end the fighting. this is the ukrainian army front line in another village. heavy weapons are supposed to have been withdrawn as part of the minsk deal, but both sides accuse each other of breaking the agreement almost every day. this area has seen some of the fiercest fighting since the conflict began. now the ukrainian army sell us the separatists regularly target their positions here. they also tell us that the two towers on the horizon are used
as lookout posts and sniper possessions. they moved this 78-year-old grandmother to so-called safety four times. but she has come under fire every time. and every house has been destroyed. >> translator: i'm not going anywhere, because i got married here. my children were born here. my grandchildren were born here nch everyone is gone, and i don't want to go, because if i do, how will they fine me? i won't move until there is peace. >> reporter: the conflict hasn't finished. i personally believe the ukrainian military are needed here to deter the enemy's on slot. we have to be here to protect and help the people who decided to stay and to bring annen to this conflict. >> reporter: at a nearby check point, ukrainian volunteers entertain the soldiers. these men are fiercely patriotic and anti-moscow.
>> translator: it's important because people are strong in their unity when we are united, and together we will defeat our enemy and the evil muscovites. >> reporter: among the destruction of war, people across this region have no interest in talk of victory, wishing only the fighting would end. hope hope has arrived in cuba where for the first time in nearly a thousand years a patriarch of the russian orthodox church will meet a roman catholic pope. pope francis will hold talks during the whistle stop tour to the country. he'll then head to mexico on friday. natasha ghoneim is in cuba's capitol. natasha why is this happening now and why in cuba? >> reporter: i'll explain in
just a second, felicity. we haven't seen them together just yet, but take a look behind me, and the symbolism of the two planes side by side is a pretty powerful image. you talked about the fact that this has been an almost 1,000-year-old rift. it created an east-west christian europe, if you will. this meeting orchestrated by president castro, was always years in the making. preparations were underway since the '90s. plans dissipated over existing grievances, but when pope francis began his papalsy he made it clear that meeting the
patriarch was a priority. what has happened is cuba became a neutral and a convenient country. the patriarch was already going to be here for an firm visit to latin america. pope francis was en route to mexico, and he rearranged his schedule so he could be here in havana to meet with the patriarch. both sides have said that they hope that this meeting will be a hopeful sign for all people. >> it's going to be truly hiser to. thanks, natasha. two buildings have collapsed on a busy shopping street in istanbul, but no one is thought to have been injured. the buildings were evacuated before they collapsed and no one was inside when they went down.
it happened near a main shopping district. south korea has cut off power and water supplies to an industrial complex in north korea. the jointly run park is the slatest flash point as relations between the two neighbors deteriorate over pyongyang's rocket launch earlier this week. north korea expelled all of the south's workers on thursday and ceased all of their assets. >> translator: they expelled our people in a very short amount of time, and did not allow them to bring products while illegally freezing valuable assets. the conduct of the north is very regrettable, and we make it clear that the north will be responsible for everything that happens. four white farmers accused of killing two black farm workers have appeared incourt in south africa, the victim's
families say the men went to ask for wages owed to them. the farmers say they were being robbed and were acting in self-defense. former u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton has tried to regain the upper hand over bernie sanders in their latest televised debate. the white house hopefuls are facing another primary battle this month. kimberly halkett sent this report from washington. >> reporter: hours before the democratic debate, presidential hopeful, bernie sanders repieced this television ad. it features the daughter of eric garner, killed by police during an arrest for selling cigarettes. now she says she is endorsing bernie sanders for president. >> i'm behind anyone who is going to listen and speak up for us. >> reporter: but hours earlier the prominent congressional
black caucus endorsed hillary clinton. the battle for the support of african american and latino voters was the focus for the democratic presidential candidates in their latest debate. at issue, who was more supportive of latin america immigrants allowed to stay after entering illegally. >> i voted for comprehensive immigration reform form in 2007. >> when we saw children are coming from these horrendous, her ren dousely violent areas of honduras and neighboring countries, people who are fleeing drug violence and cartel violence, i thought it was a good idea to allow those children to stay in this country. that was not as i understand it the secretaries position. >> reporter: they always also argued over the causes of systemic racism in the u.s. and when it comes to supporting
america's first black president, clinton went on the attack. >> today senator sanders said that president obama failed the presidential leadership test. and this is not the first time he has criticized president obama. >> madam secretary, that is a low blow. i have worked for his reelection -- his first election, and his reelection. but i think it is really unfair to suggest that i have not been supportive of the president. >> reporter: clinton is counting on the backing of minority voters who have in the past supportered her. but bernie sanders has been gaining support in key demographics that hillary clinton once counted on, middle class and younger voters, including young voters of color. making the so-called minority vote one that hillary clinton can no longer count on.
kimberly halkett, al jazeera, washington. a we hostage -- reminder you can find out much moo moore -- more on our website, aljazeera.com. >> the warm blue waters off the coast of hawaii, a scene of incredible beauty but a world in transition. ironically this piece of coral, delicate as fine china, is also a sign of trouble. >> today, we are facing the potential loss or massive degradation of all of our reefs. >> down here, climate change is