tv BBC News at Ten BBC News April 13, 2017 10:00pm-10:31pm BST
tonight at ten: president assad says claims his forces launched a chemical attack on a rebel town are completely fabricated. he said syria doesn t possess chemical weapons and the west made up the story — so america could justify the missile strike on his country. the west — mainly the united states — is hand in glove with the terrorists. they fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack. it's his first interview since the chemical attack which left almost 90 people dead. also tonight: america confirms it has for the first time dropped its largest non—nuclear bomb — seen here in tests — on so—called islamic state in afghanistan. we are so proud of our military and it was another successful event. a new generation of grammars in england — the education secretary justine greening sets out her plans for schools for "ordinary working families". a show of force in north korea, amid fears the military
is about to carry out its sixth nuclear test. and 750 million miles away — nasa says one of saturn's moons may now be the single best place to look for life beyond earth. and coming up in sportsday on bbc news: an away goal at anderlecht, as manchester united attempt to gain the upper hand in their europa league quarterfinal tie in belgium. good evening. syria's president assad says claims that his armed forces were behind a chemical weapons attack on a rebel town last week are a "100% fabrication". instead, he's claimed america worked "hand in glove" with terrorist groups to stage the attack
as a pretext for american missile strikes. and he questioned whether tv images of dead children were real. but tonight, chemical weapons investigators said allegations of a chemical attack last week were credible. our middle east editor jeremy bowen has this report — it contains distressing images. the attack on khan sheikhoun produced terrible images of children poisoned by nerve gas and rescue workers struggling to help. hosing victims down to try to wash it away. president trump said he was so shocked by what he saw that he went from being prepared to deal with the assad regime, to calling the syrian president a butcher. bashar al—assad denies every accusation against him. there was no order to make any attack. we don't have any chemical weapons. we gave up our arsenal three years ago. even if we had them we wouldn't use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history. there is credible evidence —
samples, notjust pictures — that chemical weapons were used in khan sheikhoun, according to the organisation that supervises the international ban on them. but these scenes, president assad insisted, could have been staged — to discredit his government. we don't know whether those dead, the children, where they killed in khan sheikhoun? were they dead at all? who committed the attack, if there was an attack? with the material you have no information at all. nothing at all, not investigated. the fakery, he said, included the white helmets rescue teams — al-qaeda men disguised as heroes. we have the proof those videos were fake, like the white helments, for example. they are al-qaeda, they are al—nusra front, who shaved their beard, wore white hats and appeared as humanitarian heroes, which is not the case.
the same people were killing syrian soldiers and you have the proof of the internet. the american cruise missile attack a week ago has changed a great dealfor the regime. for the first time it's been hit by the us. america's next moves are not clear. but the rhetoric has switched to regime change in syria. the american attack, president assad said, played into the hands of al-qaeda. our impression that the west — mainly the united states — is hand in glove with the terrorists. they fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack. britain's prime minister was inspecting newly commissioned officers at sandhurst and keeping up the pressure. british scientists have analysed material from the site of the attack. they are very clear that sarin, or a sarin like substance, was used. as our ambassador to the united nations made clear yesterday, like the united states,
we believe it's highly likely that that attack was carried out by the assad regime. president assad insists he has nothing to gain by attacking syrian civilians. he will be relieved if all he faces in the next few months are more words of condemnation. jeremy is with me now. the first time that president assad has spoken about this. what does his interview say about the position he finds himself in? i have interviewed him a couple of years ago and judging by his demeanour he seems rather anxious at the moment. things have really changed for him and really quite a short time. he seemed to be riding high in a stronger position as he'd been since the war started and in the last week, the americans have hit him and the rhetoric has switched back to something really quite hostile. i think even if you believe what assad says about these attacks, it doesn't really matter in a sense, because
the americans are saying that essentially he's telling lies. now what really matters for assad is the continuing patronage of president putin and lost. and the russians. he is their man. i think that those people who oppose him, who think the russians may now flick a switch and replace him, are going to be disappointed because i think more than anything putin wants to have his man in damascus. he's got somebody there and i think that he doesn't want to rock the boat, bring more disruption into what for putting up until now has been quite a successful operation. thank you. the us military has dropped the biggest non—nuclear bomb for the first time — the so—called mother of all bombs — on a tunnel complex used by the islamic state group in afghanistan. the attack has been strongly condemned by the former afghan president, hamid karzai, who said it was an inhuman and brutal misuse of their country as a testing ground for new and dangerous weapons. the tunnels were located in the remote achin district of eastern nangarhar province, close to the border with pakistan. here's our north america editor, jon sopel. this is the gbu—iis/b,
this is the gbu—43/b, also known as a moab, a massive ordnance air blast. or, as it's more commonly known, the mother of all bombs. and today, for the first time ever, it was used in combat, the largest non—nuclear weapon ever deployed. the target, so—called islamic state in afghanistan. we targeted a system of tunnels and caves that isis fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target us military advisers and afghan forces in the area. the united states ta kes forces in the area. the united states takes the fight against isis very seriously and in order to defeat the group, we must deny them operational space, which we did. it's turning out to be a busy time for the commander—in—chief. it's turning out to be a busy time for the commander-in-chief. we are so for the commander-in-chief. we are so proud of our military and it was another successful event. white and no one can say it's not what he promised during the campaign. i know
more about isis than the generals do, believe me. iwould bomb more about isis than the generals do, believe me. i would bomb the bleep out of them. the towns and caves used by the taliban over 15 yea rs caves used by the taliban over 15 years ago are now being used by is. this bomb was dropped on comp external network in nangahar province, close to the pakistan border where a member of us forces was killed last week. this shows the administration takes isis moving seriously from the middle east to afghanistan seriously. but the action has brought a furious tweet from afg hanistan's former action has brought a furious tweet from afghanistan's former president, hamid karzai. this is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as a testing ground for new and dangerous weapons. it's not just testing ground for new and dangerous weapons. it's notjust the dropping ofa weapons. it's notjust the dropping of a massive bomb on afghanistan. in just over a week, president trump has ordered the missile strike on syria, a naval battle group to head to the korean peninsula, and he's restated his commitment to nato.
some of donald trump's supporters are asking, whatever happened to the isolationist, america's first president of the inauguration? jon sopel president of the inauguration? jon sopel, bbc news, washington. and you can more analysis on that story shortly on newsnight, over on bbc two, after this programme. the education secretary — justine greening — has defended plans to introduce new grammar schools in england. there are already 163 grammar schools. ms greening said the new grammars would "support young people from every background, not the privileged few" and they'd help what she called "ordinary working families" — those with two adults, two children and a household income of £33,000 a year. but critics say there's little evidence that academically selective schools improve social mobility. here's our education editor, bra nwen jeffreys. after—school tutoring for grammar school exams. competition for limited places is tough. just passing isn't enough, so parents pay for help to get top marks.
it's not the be all and end all, but i believe that if she passes strongly, she'll have a better chance of progressing into later life, if she has attended a grammar school. one of the schools he might like might be one of the grammar schools and, if he's taken the 11 plus, even if you pass the exam, there is no guarantees, so it's about keeping as many doors open for him as possible. so are grammar schools just for the better—off? today, the education secretary said they won't be. i want these new schools to work for everyone. this will be a new model of grammars, truly open to all. we will insist on that. and it will reflect the choices of local parents and communities. so when you look at the family income of pupils, what do the government stats show? in nonselective comprehensives, the lowest, above—average and below—average income families get a similar share of places. in academically selective grammar schools, families on the lowest wages and benefits getjust
9% of places. below average income, 36% of places. and pupils from families with above average income, 53% of places — more than half. metres per second squared. this grammar school is an exception. it sets aside some places for boys on free school meals. the government expects all to follow this example. you can use a calculator. ministers hope to convince mps to scrap the legal ban on new grammar schools. there's cross—party opposition to the idea of new grammar schools, and that includes some conservative mps and peers. this wasn't in the tory manifesto at the last election, and that gives them greater freedom to oppose it. behind their unease, there is one fundamental fact. that however you look at it, grammar schools are for the few, not for the many. if you create a decision at the age of ii, whether a child is able enough or not to go to a grammar
school, you are then saying possibly two thirds are not good enough. what's the message to them? people develop at different rates. children develop at different rates. what do you think is going to happen? and today, no mention of the main challenge, the biggest squeeze on school budgets in england in 20 years. branwen jeffreys, bbc news. more families have accused the nhs trust at the centre of an investigation into its maternity services for failing to properly investigate the deaths of their babies. the mother ofjack burn, who died in 2015, said their concerns were dismissed by the shrewsbury and telford hospital trust. the trust says it has learned lessons from all the deaths and is aware that it needs to improve its communication with families. our social affairs correspondent michael buchanan reports from shropshire. kayleigh and colin lost their daughter last april, but were forced to fight for justice.
pippa died just a day after being born at home. hours earlier, kayleigh had called the local hospital worried about her daughter's vomiting. so this is the babygro that pippa went to bed in that night. as you can see, it's got splodges of dark brown mucus. the midwives offered no real help. the family struggled on, but pippa's infection killed her. weeks later, the trust told the family the death was unavoidable. members from the trust sat here, on this seat, and said nothing could have been done to save pippa. that wasn't true? no. the family fought for an investigation. last week, a coroner ruled that pippa's death was preventable. they weren't going to
do an investigation, so that was when i said, that's not good enough. there will be an investigation and we will be involved. pippa griffith is one of seven avoidable deaths at this trust in a little over 18—months. as we revealed last night, the health secretary has now ordered an investigation into maternity services. the families of sophiya hotchkiss and jack burn are keen to take part as they say neither baby's death was properly investigated. hayley matthew's son, jack, died in 2015 from an infection, hours after being born, but she says mistakes made during her 36—hour labour contributed to his death and can't understand why the trust haven't answered her many questions. why they left me so long. why they didn't induce me the night i went in. they were saying he had strep b.
he wouldn't have had that. the night i went in, i had nothing, i didn't have no infection. it was the two days i was in there when infection set in, and they didn't pick up on it, which now cost me my baby. after we raised concerns, the local coroner is now considering opening an inquest into jack's death. the trust meanwhile maintain they do examine all deaths. i'm aware that each of the cases that have been brought to our attention as part of this investigation has been investigated. we've done root cause analysis, which is a more detailed investigation, on most of them. kayleigh griffiths will give birth once more next month. given what the couple have suffered, they‘ re understandably nervous. this family, every family here, need maternity services to improve. michael buchanan, bbc news, shropshire. a record number of people who went to a&e departments in england
this winter had to wait at least four hours to be admitted. almost 200,000 people had to wait much longer than they should for a bed — a big rise on last year's figures. nearly 100,000 more people had to wait longer than 18 weeks for planned treatment. penthouse apartments, impressive views — this is the north korea that the country's leader, kim jong—un, wants the world to see. today, he invited foreign journalists to watch as he cut the ribbon at a prestigious housing project in front of thousands of people. but it's all against a backdrop of increasing international pressure with fears that north korea is about to conduct its sixth nuclear test. an american aircraft carrier group is being deployed to the region and north korea's being threatened with tougher economic sanctions. our correspondent, john sudworth, sent this report from pyongyang. his movements are being tightly monitored and controlled. they poured into central pyongyang in their tens of thousands
of citizens and soldiers alike, north korea has always demanded displays of mass devotion. cheering and at the front of the crowd there was kim jong—un. celebrating not a missile launch or a rocket test, but the construction of pyongyang's newest street. the inauguration of a few tower blocks and shops would, anywhere else, raise barely a murmur. in pyongyang, it's met with rapturous applause. it might seem like an extraordinary celebration to mark the opening of a street, but it's about so much more than that.
it's about economic survival, resilience and sending a message to the outside world of total loyalty to the leader. the country's prime minister, pak pong—ju, told the crowds that the opening of the new street sends a more powerful signal to the world than any number of nuclear bombs. but in reality, for north korea, bombs are vital. with reports that another nuclear test may be imminent, we're taken on a tour of a school. "the dear marshall kim jong—un clothes and feeds us", this nine—year—old girl tells me. and, from an early age, she's told that it's bombs and missiles that guarantee his regime's survival. for a poor and isolated country like north korea this
reasoning has some logic. might it have gone the way of iraq or libya, its leaders ask, if it didn't have its nuclear programme? so foreign journalists are brought here to be shown a friendly face — and there are many of them — but also the willingness to endure. "sanctions don't bother us at all", this man tells me. "united around our leader, nothing can harm us." the message is clear — north korea is marching towards its nuclear future and no amount of threat or coercion from a us president will get in its way. john sudworth, bbc news, pyongyang. a brief look at some of the day's other news stories:
the uk arm of the american coffee chain starbucks saw profits fall by 58% last year, to £13 million. the company has blamed a slowing economy and the impact of brexit. starbucks has also faced increasing competition from other coffee chains. the queen, accompanied by the duke of edinburgh, has given traditional maundy money to 91 men and 91 women in a service at leicester cathedral. the coins represent each of her 91 years. the passenger dragged from an overbooked united airlines plane is considering suing the airline. a lawyer for dr david dao said he was left concussed, with a broken nose and had lost two front teeth in the scuffle. 13 years ago, chechen separatists took more than 1,000 pupils, parents and teachers hostage at a school in the russian town of beslan. the siege ended three days later, when russian security forces stormed the building using tanks and flame throwers. more than 300 people were killed, most of them children. today, the european court of human rights ruled that russia
had failed to protect human lives during the botched attempt to rescue the hostages. our correspondent, sarah rainsford, reported from beslan during the siege and has returned to the town that's haunted by memories of what happened. the ruins of school number one still stand in beslan. the sports hall, once crammed full of hostages, is now a shrine to those killed. all the stuffed toys, a reminder that so many of them were children. this woman's daughter was just eight yea rs woman's daughter was just eight years old. she went to school that day with her mum and her sister. translation: she was full of miss chief. she admits the house is horribly quiet with her gone. she describes the three day siegeand remembers how they had begun to lose hope. even now, all this is very
raw. but she's angry, too at the officials she accuses of handling the crisis terribly. translation: they didn't prevent the ter o attack. they didn't rescue us. they couldn't even agree to get water to us. for the sake of the children, they could have done more. they could have negotiated so that more children were freed. instead, this is how the hostages were held. with explosives strung from the basketball hoops. the whole world watched in horror as the gunmen demanded russians troops pull out of chechenya. the end was sudden and chaotic. two explosions and hostages running for their lives as the building was stormed. that's when most of the victims were killed. among all the messages that are on the walls here, there is a promise, it says that what happened here in beslan will never be forgotten. but ever since this siege happened there have been people here
in this town haunted by questions about whether more could have been done to prevent the siege and whether so many people had to die when it all ended. for years, these pa rents when it all ended. for years, these parents have been pushing for an investigation. rejected at every turn. now, there's hope the ruling in strasbourg could help bring the first officials to account. this girl writes music to help cope with what she lived through. she survived the siege but her song remembers 28 classmates who were killed. coming to terms with that is a painful process , to terms with that is a painful process, so she has stopped thinking about who is to blame. translation: just after the terror attack, when we were still children, we felt like everyone had betrayed us. we felt like everyone had betrayed us. we blamed everyone around us. how could they abandon us? we were so desperate for someone to save us, but that's faded now because we can't change what happened. the
siege has left deep scars on this town, but the families of those killed want lessons to be learned so no other mother has to suffer like this. sarah rainsford, bbc news, beslan. turkey had always seen itself as a bridge between the east and west. but there's been a mood change, starting with a failed coup lastjuly. it led to a wave of patriotism and an increase in president erdogan's powers. now, the country is going to the polls in effect to cement that position. turkey will be voting on a series of proposals, including giving the president the power to remove the prime minster, limiting the powers of parliament and introducing 12—year terms for the president. john simpson has been following the campaigns and sent this report from istanbul. chora, in anatolia, mostly agricultural and conservative, it's solid from a man who wants to strengthen his power
as their president. cheering mr erdogan knows just how to please them. he used to be a footballer, so he turns up wearing the local team's scarf. he understands how humiliated many turks feel at being cold shouldered by europe and he stirs them up against western countries. applause afterwards, the crowd's still pumped up. "they don't want turkey to be strong", she says. this man says, "the west will have to treat turkey better now it's powerful. we don't hate europeans, we hate their leaders", he goes on. this is the mood which president erdogan has created. explosions it the was the attempted coup last
july which gave mr erdogan the impetuous to pitch for much greater powers, even though it was a complete failure. one of those who was injured was the mayor of a district in istanbul where there was fighting. he's a passionate supporter of president erdogan. if turkey votes yes on sunday, will it become a dictatorship? translation: absolutely not. some people are trying to make it look like that. but if our president wanted to use the powers he already has, then he could be a real dictator now. turkey already locks up more journalists than any other country, this is the flat of one of them, murat aksoy. axsoy‘s wife, sehriban, is reading a letterfrom him. he was supposed to have been freed two weeks ago, but it didn't happen. "my dear, my love, we'll see each
other in a few hours", he ' ' but it wasn't, and the judges who'd ordered his release were suspended. translation: i told our daughter very clearly that we were going to bring her dad home, but it would be late, she would be asleep. when she woke up, he wasn't there. she checked all the rooms, she asked where he was. i tried to explain to her, but i couldn't. president erdogan is pulling out all the stops to get new powers to deal with people like that. even if he loses on sunday, he'll probably be able to do pretty much what he wants anyway. and, if he wins, he'll have the chance of staying in power until 2029. john simpson, bbc news, istanbul. it's 750 million miles from earth, but the american space agency nasa
says one of saturn's moons — known as enceladus — may now be the single best place to look for life beyond earth. samples of the waters erupting from the moon's surface suggest it has all the conditions needed for life. the discovery was made by the cassini spacecraft which is coming to the end of a 13—year mission to saturn. our science editor, david shukman, reports. for over a decade, cassini has shared the wonders of saturn and its family of icy moons. a nasa video promoting a mission that keeps making astonishing discoveries about saturn. a spacecraft, called cassini, has focused on one of saturn's moons, enceladus. beneath its icy surface is a deep ocean and greatjets of water, blasting out of it, contain ingredients needed for life. in fact, nasa scientists now say that on the floor of the ocean there may be hydrothermal vents, like these on earth, making hydrogen that can feed microbes.
so, conceivably, there could be life on enceladus. this is a very significant finding because the hydrogen could be a potential source of chemical energy for any microbes that might be in enceladus's ocean. so this is a very exciting finding for the cassini team. saturn, with its rings, is perhaps the most striking of the planets and this mission by nasa and the european space agency has been incredibly revealing. the spacecraft itself, cassini, is one of the largest ever sent into deep space, it stands nearly seven meters tall and it's been on an epicjourney. it left earth back in 1997, flying out beyond mars, weaving pastjupiter before arriving at saturn in 2004, and it's been studying the planet ever since. but now comes the most spectacular stage of all, as the spacecraft orbits inside the famous rings. we now know they're made of pieces of ice and rock, ranging from tiny specs to lumps the size of houses and flying
this close will give us unprecedented views of the rings and of saturn itself. this journey of discovery will get closer to the rings than ever before, but the instruments were built back in the early 1990s and the scientists aren't sure they'll work. the reason that i'm a bit nervous is that the final orbits were designed with mine instrument in mind and with the gravity instrument in mind. and so, there's a lot of pressure on us to produce really good science and the instruments are getting old — just like we are — so i'm very excited, but i'm rather unsettled by it as well. cassini will skim the clouds of saturn for the next few months before burning up. the idea is to make sure the spacecraft does not crash on to any of saturn's moons and contaminate them, especially the icy world of enceladus.