tv BBC News at Ten BBC News September 26, 2017 10:00pm-10:31pm BST
a special report on the battle for raqqa — the last stronghold of so—called islamic state. gunfire the current offensive, led by arab and kurdish fighters, with american and british support — started injune, and the final stages are now underway. this is the centre of raqqa, the very heart, if you like, of the islamic state. nine roundabout is a few hundred metres away from here, locals call it "the circle of hell". we'll have a report from the heart of raqqa — still claimed as a capital — by the islamic state group. also tonight... this is the government in waiting, 0k? labour confirms it's planning for a possibile collapse in the value of the pound, ifjeremy corbyn becomes prime minister. mothers give evidence of the harm done to their children in the womb by an epilepsy drug. i have been mourning my children since the day they came into my life, and i am determined to not let this injustice happen to other families.
after years of campaigning, women in saudi arabia are to be given the right to drive. the england cricketer ben stokes is arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm. admiring my stone cladding, are you? it certainly eye—catching! and, the coronation street star liz dawn — known to millions as vera duckworth — has died at the age of 77. and coming up in sportsday on bbc news: harry kane continues his good goal—scoring form for spurs. they're one of three british teams in champions league action this evening. good evening.
we start tonight with an exclusive report on the final stages of the battle for the syrian city of raqqa — the last major stronghold of so—called islamic state. the current offensive, led by arab and kurdish fighters, with american and british support, started in june when is had control of these areas across syria and iraq. at the time, is controlled most of raqqa, with these neighbourhoods still pretty heavily populated. but as the population shrinks, it's thought that only a few hundred is fighters are holding the centre of the city. the bbc is the only broadcaster to gain access to the heart of the last is stronghold in syria. our middle east correspondent quentin sommerville, and cameraman darren conway, report from inside raqqa. there are some distressing images in the report. this is a war of annihilation says the united states. raqqa is the battle
ground and the victim. these are western coalition bombs, targeting the fighters of the so—called islamic state. more than 5000 hit raqqa last month alone. an entire city has become a no man's land. mile after mile, there's no life, no people. for years is terrorised and controlled these streets. now hundreds of those who called raqqa home have been killed by coalition bombs made to free them. the us—led mission disputes the figure and says that this is the most precise bombing campaign in history. they may be young and their army new, but the men of the kurdish led syrian democratic forces of winning.
is promised a new empire would grow here. instead, the corpses of its fighters fill the gutters. first mosul and now raqqa, the caliphate is already dead. nearby, another corpse rots, likely caused by a drone strike. the threat here is from snipers. a pause too long or a misstep, and this female fighter would have lost her head. instead, the shot hits the wall to the right. the danger lies around corners and in raqqa's shadows. is rarely come out and attack, they hide and wait. there are is fighters hiding near a mosque. the kurds throw everything they have at the gunmen. is return fire. all this to take just half a mile of road. gunfire when all else fails...
an air strike on the is position. it might have done the trick. we wait for the all clear. the instructions are simple, run that way and be quick. but as i get to the end of the street, it's clear the sniper is still there. he fires at us but misses. the shots ricochet off the wall by the camera. it hit right there. the deeper into the city, the greater the danger. it's an improvised war. here, arab fighters have savaged an is armoured car.
like a prehistoric beast it rumbles through marooned landscape. the commander knows that snipers only need a tiny window of opportunity. even in captured ground, there's always the risk that is will appear from behind. they've dug tunnels all over the city. the steel flanks of the armour shield us through yet another sniper alley. there's a sniperjust around that corner, just at the end of the street. i have to be very careful here. this is the centre of raqqa. the very heart, if you like, of the islamic state. the roundabout is about a few hundred metres away from here.
locals call it the circle of hell. for these fighters it's critical territory to retake, but it's much more than that because it's there that their friends were beheaded and there they were crucified. when they take that territory, they say, they will cleanse raqqa of the islamic state. but before the cleansing, more blood has to be spilt. one of the fighters has been shot. is control the rooftops and our men are pinned down. there are almost in panic, they're desperate. their commrade is just out of reach. again, and air strike is called in. and this time it works. finally they can get to him. he's rushed to a field hospital.
but he doesn't survive. he was 21 years old. the fighters are exhausted, they've had too many days end like this. translation: we keep going. we will sacrifice our blood for our people inside, because they're having a tough time, a really tough time. yesterday daesh attacked us, with their men dressed as women and there were big numbers like 100. we thought they were civilians. they also had children with them, and suddenly the civilians and children went to the side of the road and then they started to fire at us. in the six days we were inside raqqa, we didn't see a single civilian. thousands though are still trapped in is areas. raqqa, for them, is an ironclad death trap. they'd have to go through all of this to escape. it's not clear who's friend or foe. raqqa was the islamic state's syrian capital, now it's a city fit for no one.
gunfire. quentin sommerville, bbc news, raqqa. live to beirut and quentin sommerville. can we talk about what happens next? to the civilians you mentioned in raqqa and the forces of so—called islamic state? as we said in the report, we saw no civilians inside raqqa but one man i met outside, was an engineer, he spoke english and he said raqqa is paying the price that the world. people will return to that city that when they do they will ask the question, did so much of it have to be sacrificed to defeat the islamic state ? be sacrificed to defeat the islamic state? the so—called islamic state won't last therefore much longer, they are surrounded and losing fighters are a tremendous rate. as many as 30 of them were killed today ina many as 30 of them were killed today in a counterattack. and all across
theirformer in a counterattack. and all across their former caliphate, in a counterattack. and all across theirformer caliphate, in in a counterattack. and all across their former caliphate, in a in a counterattack. and all across theirformer caliphate, in a iraq and syria, they are down to a few towns and cities. to all intents and purposes, the caliphate is dead. but the leadership is still intact and their ability to carry out attacks and inspire attacks in britain and europe, that still exists. that is islamic state and it won't easily be bombed out of the system ‘s. islamic state and it won't easily be bombed out of the system 's. thank you. our correspondent in beirut, having been reporting for us in raqqa. jeremy corbyn has confirmed that labour is planning for a possible collapse in the value of the pound and a flight of investors' capital, if it wins the next election. he was responding to remarks made last night by his shadow chancellorjohn mcdonnell, who said that labour was engaging in 'war games—type scenario planning', if the financial markets reacted badly to policies such as renationalisation and tax changes. mr corbyn was speaking to our political editor laura kuenssberg. this is the government in waiting, 0k? he loves them, and they love him.
chanting: "0h, jeremy corbyn!" they want radical, and will follow him to get there. sometimes this week it feels like they go to the end of the earth. but what would it take for the whole country to choose jeremy corbyn as our prime minister? would he be more radical, or less? what do you think it is that will lead you to victory? is it to be more radical, or to dig into the manifesto you put forward in june? i think essentially our manifesto sets out the parameters of what we're trying to do, which is challenge inequality and injustice and for the first time in many, many decades, a political party is putting forward something that does seriously challenge levels of inequality and injustice within our society. but listen to what his closest ally thinks the consequences just might possibly be.
what happens if there's such and such a reaction? what happens if there is a run on the pound? is this concept of capital flight? your shadow chancellor suggested last night, however unlikely, because of the scale of the changes you might want to make, you might have to prepare for a run on the pound, for the prospect of people taking money out of this country? i thinkjohn is right to look at all these scenarios, because if we're going to move into government, we need to know what we're going to do, and that's set out in our manifesto and we're putting a lot more detail into that, that's what this conference is about and that's what the policy developments are about, but also look at all the scenarios we might face. so that's a realistic scenario, that there might be a run on the pound if you win the election? there's been a run on the pound for the past two years, actually. is that how do you see what's happened ? there's been effectively a run on the pound. he was suggesting, however unlikely, as he said, that people might want to take money out of britain if you were elected. why do you think
people would do that? i would hope they would recognise that we want an investment led economy, that we are going to increase taxation to corporations and the very wealthiest, in order to invest in the education of our children, invest in improvements in our health care. as a potential prime minister, do you worry that that might scare business away? no. it's not just about big corporations? no, it's not going to scare people away. john mcdonnell also said you have to be prepared for "what happens when or if they come for us". who are "they", what do you think he meant? i think they're people thatjohn probably doesn't like. he would be your chancellor. he is your closest political ally, you've worked alongside each otherfor decades. look, john has... and he's sounding like you're approaching getting into government like some kind of war, where people you don't like might come and attack you. isn't wanting to lead a country about bringing people together? it is about bringing people together, but it is about change, in terms of the agenda. now well used to the photo
opportunity, there's no question jeremy corbyn‘s changed the terms of labour's conversation. nationalisations, taking all pfi projects into public hands, a new £500 million for an nhs winter crisis, and hundreds of extra billions of borrowing and higher taxes for the rich. but how has it changed him? this is your third conference now as leader and a very different environment. has it changed you? i'm even busier than i've been, i've always been a pretty busy person in my life. your critics inside the party are now behind you, because of the advance in the election. do you feel now you have won the argument inside the labour party? i stood for the election as leader, challenging the concepts of austerity and economic injustice and inequality in this country. i was proud to stand, and pleased to be elected. have you won the argument in the labour party? well, the argument in the party has been about our role as a party, our role in rejuvenating
our economy and our society. and do you know what? it's really exciting. exciting for him, exciting for many here, yet even senior labour figures harbour doubts — is this a powerful fad or really the government of the future? the european medicines agency in london has been hearing evidence from mothers from several european countries whose children were harmed in the womb by an epilepsy drug called sodium valproate. it's thought that 20,000 children have been harmed in the uk alone. mothers say that the risks involved need to be spelled out with much greater clarity, as our health correspondent, sophie hutchinson, reports. pat gets up bright and early. annie is just two years old, she has autism caused
by the epilepsy drug, sodium valproat, her mum took when she was pregnant. it's raining. it's raining, yeah. antonia says no—one ever told her of the risks. i was heartbroken because no—one's really heard of the syndrome and, when i mention it to any health professionals, they don't actually know what it is, i have to tell them. making a difference. today women from switzerland, belgium, france, ireland and the uk met in london to give evidence to the european medicines agency. some have campaigned for almost 20 years about the dangers of sodium valproate and said they're relieved it's finally listening. my son is 30 and to say that i have been counting the minutes until today is an understatement. she spoke emotionally at the hearing. i have been mourning my children since the day they came into my life and i am determined to not let this injustice happen to other families. these are some of the estimated tens of thousands of children
harmed by sodium valproate across the world. the european watchdog wants to know if warnings about the drug are now reaching women. it carries a 10% risk of physical abnormalities, like spina bifida, and a 30%—40% risk of autism, learning disabilities and low iq for babies in the womb. what is striking is the lack of consistency even now in each country. in britain, there are written warnings on the outsides of packets. in france, in contrast, there's this unmistakable symbol, but in ireland women say they're still being given these powerful pills in plastic bags. i represent a french victim. one of those who gave evidence today was french mother marine martin, whose two children have been harmed, i met her in paris. she's using it as a rattle? yeah. this is the drug that's harmed her? yes, this is the drug i take during all the pregnancies. she's spearheaded a campaign
securing a compensation fund from the french government and is one of 1,200 families suing the drugs manufacturer, sanofi. you must inform the patient of the risk, and they don't inform me about that. this afternoon, sanofi told the public hearing it had acted responsibly. sanofi has always provided the most up—to—date scientific information with the approval of the health authorities. the advice for patients is not to stop taking valproate without consulting a doctor. the european watchdog will report in december whether more needs to be done to prevent children like annie from being harmed. sophie hutchinson, bbc news. victims of the contaminated blood scandal in the 1970s and 1980s have won a ruling allowing them to launch a high court action to seek damages. thousands of nhs patients who needed blood transfusions were given
contaminated products imported from the united states and became infected with hepatitis c and hiv. lawyers acting for the victims told the court today that new information had come to light, which could have helped them in previous cases. theresa may has already announced an official inquiry into the scandal. in ireland, a referendum on abortion is set to be held next summer. the republic's current laws are among the strictest in europe. voters will be asked to decide whether to change the irish constitution, under which abortion is allowed only if the life of the mother is in danger. hundreds of women travel abroad every year for terminations. 0ur correspondent, chris page, is in belfast. ed underline for us the significance of this announcement today? well, huw, abortion is ireland's most sensitive social issue. the announcement that it plans to hold a referendum on the issue in about nine months' time, may orjune of next year, comes after campaigns for changing the law have gathered pace
over the last few years the influence of the catholic church in ireland has diminished and more women have come forward with how think they carried across the irish sea to have abortions. last year, 3,000 women who had their pregnant cyst terminated in the uk gave addresses in the irish republic. there are many people in the irish republic who will passionately oppose any change in the law. we can expect the referendum campaign to be very emotionally charged, to be very hard—fought very emotionally charged, to be very hard —fought and to very emotionally charged, to be very hard—fought and to have a certain symbolism given that it's coming a few weeks before pope francis is due to visit ireland in august next year. it could be highly symbolic in the change of a european society which was one regarded as one of the continent's most socially conservative. thank you very much.
a brief look at some of the day's other news stories: three men arrested by detectives investigating the parsons green terror attack in london have been released and face no further action. they were detained in newport and cardiff. six people in total have now been released and one has been charged with attempted murder. a 16—year—old girl has been charged with attempted murder after a welfare officer was stabbed at winterton community academy, near scunthorpe. the teenager, who can't be named for legal reasons, will appear before grimsby magistrates tomorrow. sirjames dyson, the inventor best known for creating the bagless vacuum cleaner, is to spend £2 billion developing an electric car. the battery—powered vehicle is due to be launched in 2020. it's been revealed that staff at the company's wiltshire headquarters have been working on the project for the past two years. after years of campaigning, women in saudi arabia are to be given the right to drive. it's the last country in the world to allow women to drive. the law will be changed nextjune. women's rights activists have been jailed in saudi arabia for defying the ban.
0ur correspondent, frank gardner, is here. you know this country very well. what, for you, is behind this and the significance of it? well, huw, i'm glad i've lived to see the day when this ban is finally lifted. it doesn't go into practice, into law, untiljune next doesn't go into practice, into law, until june next year. doesn't go into practice, into law, untiljune next year. but it's a momentous day for saudi arabia. there wasjubilation momentous day for saudi arabia. there was jubilation in momentous day for saudi arabia. there wasjubilation in houses momentous day for saudi arabia. there was jubilation in houses and on the streets about this because it's decades in the waiting. you might think that it's the monarchy, the rulers, the princes holding people back, no. various kings have wa nted people back, no. various kings have wanted to lift this ban, but they've been told not to, diskoushaged not to do it by the religious clerics. flying in the face of that criticism they are lifting the ban. a number have attempted to drive you can see a woman there filming herself or being filmed as she drives illegally in 2013 in saudi arabia. half a
million american soldiers flooded into saudi arabia and women decided, hang on, here are us american women with guns and driving vehicles, we're going to do the same they got arrested. many lost their jobs. we're going to do the same they got arrested. many lost theirjobs. this will have an economic impact. thousands of foreign imported chauffeurs will be sent home. it will liberate women to drive to work instead of being driven. it's huge. frank, thank you very much, frank gardner there for us on the story from saudi arabia today. donald tusk, the president of the european council, says there hasn't been sufficient progress at the brexit talks for negotiators to move on to discussing britain's future relations with the eu. mr tusk, who met the prime minister in downing street, was speaking as a fourth round of negotiations were taking place in brussels. if you ask me and if today member states ask me, i would say there is no sufficient progress yet. but we will work on it. donald tusk there today.
while the brexit negotiations reach a critical point, president macron of france has set out his vision for reforming the european union, describing the current union as too weak, too slow and inefficient. he's called for a european defence force and a common budget, and he's also suggested that the uk might, in a few years, wish to join the kind of reformed european uniion that's he's proposing. 0ur paris correspondent, lucy williamson, has more details. with the leadership of france under his belt, president macron set out today to conquer europe with a vision of the future — an eu that wassimpler, closer, less bureaucratic and, for its citizens, the only path to sovereignty. translation: the europe that we know is too weak, too slow, to inefficient, but only europe can give us the power to act in a world facing big challenges, only europe can ensure real sovereignty. mr macron wants more european integration,
a joint asylum process, joint budgets for defence and the eurozone and an eu intervention force, but he also imagines a europe of several speeds and saide there would be a place in the union for britain, if it wants it. translation: in a european union focused on strong values and an efficient market the uk will find its place, if it wants, within a couple of years. i can't imagine that the uk would not find its place in a simpler, reformed europe. emmanuel macron wants to make europe more relevant to its citizens, but also more romantic. with nationalism growing in many countries, his answer is more integration, not less. if he's successful, it'll be a boost for europe, but also for france. the timing of his speech, two—days after the german election, is no accident. angela merkel is still choosing her coalition partners, some of whom may curb her appetite for integration.
the time for france to put forward its eu vision was now, he elysse said, before it was too late. mr macron‘s reforms can be divisive, his popularity has dropped sharply since his election in may, but he's hoping to heal divisions at home by putting europe at the centre of french identity, and france at the centre of european power. lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. the england cricketer, ben stokes, has been arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm after an incident in bristol last night. he's since been released, but is under investigation and won't be available for england's one day match against the west indies tomorrow, on the day that england's squad for the ashes is also set to be announced. 0ur sports correspondent, joe wilson, has more details. this is the most talented all—round
cricketer in england, and maybe in the world. ben stokes can win matches when he bowls, and wins matches when he bats. his fame is global. in india, where cricket really matters and really pays, children in delhi want to be him. in the early hours of monday morning, ben stokes was in this area of bristol after england had played a match in the city. stokes is under investigation for causing actual bodily harm. ben was arrested in the early hours of monday morning, 25th september, following an incident in bristol. he was held overnight and released under investigation without charge late on monday. well, west indies are training here ahead of their match against england at the oval tomorrow, but before that game begins there is a major announcement. right here, england will name their squad to play australia in the ashes. now they say they will pick players on the normal basis, of form and fitness, therefore we can assume ben stokes will be in the squad. ben stokes is a man in demand, talented, well—paid,
you will see his face on posters at the oval, one of the team's most marketable figures. well—known to possess a passionate temperament that can, at best, complement his talent. england will be desperate not to lose ben stokes, but his immediate future is in the hands of the police. joe wilson, bbc news, at the oval. the actor and political campaigner, tony booth, has died at the age of 85. well, if you're brought up to steal before you can eat, it becomes a part of your education, right? no, not right. he was best known for his role as mike in the bbc sitcom 'till death us do part‘ in a ito—year career in film and television. as a life—long socialist, father of cherie blair, he also made headlines with his criticism of tony blair's labour government. liz dawn, the actress who starred for decades as vera duckworth
in coronation street, has died at the age of 77. she first appeared in the soap in 1974, but after falling ill, a decade ago, she left the programme. herfamily said she had been the "love, light and inspiration" in their lives. 0ur correspondent, judith moritz, looks back at her life. i'll give you "be reasonable"! to many they were coronation street, the duckworths — jack and vera. you'll hear from my solicitors, love. the perm, the gravelly voice, funny and fiery, she was a corrie fixture for more than 30 years. come on, cool it, vera. well, you'll laugh on the other side of your face. come on, vera. liz dawn made vera her own, but the actress, who began life in leeds as sylvia butterfield, first worked in a variety of otherjobs, from cinema usherette to shoe sales girl, before getting her break as a nightclub singer. the money were good and i'd three children, you know, under school age, and i actually really did it for money, i used to sing at weekends.
are you alright? me, yeah, of course i am, i'm just trying to do something with this. it meant she was believable, an authentic character on the cobbles. liz had lived a life before coronation street, you know, singing and obviously having children and being a mother and being a wife, and she'd lived this life and she brought all of that to her character because she was just such a beautiful human being. come on. here, aren't you going to carry her over the threshold. liz dawn created one of the soap's famous female icons, vera duckworth, up there alongside hilda 0gden, ena sharpels and bet lynch. hey, you ain't met my husband, have you, jack? as ken barlow, bill roache was her co—star for three decades. i wouldn't call her a strong woman in that sense, but she was a very,