welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: president trump is pulling us troops out of syria. he says islamic state is defeated. defense chiefs and senior republicans say not so fast. if you're tired of fighting radical islam, i understand it. they're not tired of fighting you. the european commission publishes a series of measures to avoid major disruption if britain leaves the eu without a deal. gunfire there's been a sharp increase in violence in indian—administered kashmir. more than 500 people killed this year. we have a special report. indian armed forces are fighting what are believed to be two, perhaps three militants who are hiding in there. this gun exchange has just intensified, but the operation has been going on all through the night, for the past 12 hours. cu ba's baseball players are told they can now play professionally in the us and canada. the ghost of christmas past.
one of charles dickens‘ best—loved stories, a christmas carol, turns 175 years old. hello. american officials are saying all 2,000 us troops in syria have begun pulling out. they say the withdrawal will be completed within a hundred days. they say the withdrawal will be completed within a 100 days. president trump, revisiting one of his election campaign promises, declared on twitter: but his announcement seems to have taken the pentagon by surprise, contradicts recent assertions from the state department, and has been widely criticised by american allies and members of congress from mr trump's own party. barbara plett usher reports from washington, dc. donald trump promised to withdraw
american troops from syria during his presidential campaign, and he has been looking for a way to do that ever since. now, he is declaring "mission accomplished." the white house said troops would start to come home. it's true the us and its allies have pretty much expelled is from its so—called caliphate, the vast swathes of land it once controlled in iraq and syria. but even without territory, the militants remain a threat, and mr trump's sudden announcement has upended his administration's strategy to prevent them from making a comeback. just last week, his chief envoy said the military needed to stay and help stabilise war—torn areas of syria. i pressed him on that. but the point is the military commitment doesn't end with the end of the caliphate. that's absolutely right. and there's no timeline on it? no timelines. the president's top officials had little to say about this sudden about—face, no details about a timeline, but senators
from his party were quick to criticise. the decision to withdraw american... an american presence in syria is a colossal, in my mind, mistake, a grave error, that's going to have significant repercussions in the years and months to come. isis is not defeated in syria and iraq. i was there just a few months ago. they've been incredibly hurt, and our troops there are an insurance policy against the re—emergence of isis in syria and iraq. and that's not all. a us pullout could endanger its local kurdish allies. they've been leading the fight against the islamic state group, but turkey sees them as terrorists, and has threatened to attack them. a withdrawal would also strengthen russia and iran's influence in syria, when us policy is to weaken it. it seems the president made this decision without considered consultation with those who'd have to carry it out,
so the pentagon and state department are scrambling to figure out how they can fit this into their syria strategy. it's not clear what actually is going to happen. what is clear is this is another example of president trump's disruptive and disorientating approach to policy. barbara plett usher, bbc news, washington. and for background analysis of presidents trump's decison to withdraw us troops from syria, go to the the bbc website. you'll also find a feature on whether the withdrawal will cede influence in the region to russia and iran. that's all at bbc.com/news. let's get some of the day's other news. the us central bank, the federal reserve, has again raised interest rates, despite repeated appeals by president trump. they've gone up by 0.25% to 2.5%. shares sank on that announcement. facebook has defended its conduct after the new york times reported that the company had given major technology companies more intrusive
access to users‘ personal data than previously disclosed. it said companies given priority access included amazon, apple, microsoft and netflix. the attorney general in washington, dc is sueing facebook for allowing cambridge analytica access to users‘ data without their permission. other states are considering similar legal action. congolese police have fired tear gas to disperse stone—throwing opposition supporters in the capital, kinshasa, ahead of sunday‘s presidential election. the local governor had banned all campaign rallies in the city, citing security concerns. voters are choosing a successor to presidentjoseph kabila, who‘s been in powerfor 17 years. brazil‘s chief prosecutor has filed corruption and money laundering charges against president michel temer. he is accused of receiving illegal payments from companies who‘ve had their licences to operate in brazilian ports renewed for 70 years. mr temer will lose immunity from prosecution when he leaves office at the end of the year, but has said he will prove his innocence. the european commission has set out how it hopes to limit what officials call the most
significant damage from a no—deal brexit. if the uk reaches no formal agreement on leaving the eu, european member states will still temporarily allow british airlines to operate flights into and out of the eu, but not within it. hauliers will be able to carry freight into the eu by road for nine months without applying for permits. for up to two years, regulations covering uk financial services would be recognised in a limited number of areas as equivalent to the european union‘s. and the commission is urging states to take a generous approach to the rights of uk citizens in the eu, as long as the uk does the same. 0ur berlin correspondent, jenny hill, reports on how a no deal brexit might affect germarny. in the festive capitals of europe, goodwill is in short supply. this the season to prepare for the worst. germany‘s small businesses uncertain how to prepare for no—deal, when your british customers bring
in 10,000 euros a month and expect delivery within two days of order. translation: we are not prepared. many businesses are not prepared. we have to do everything ourselves. we need information, to be actively briefed. instead, i feel the government is waiting and hoping for a soft brexit. britain‘s last—minute diplomacy dash yielded warm words but no concessions. angela merkel remains optimistic that the brexit deal will succeed, but she is now also making plans in case it doesn‘t. i believe germany‘s woefully unprepared, the government still says that it believes in the deal being ratified in the house of commons. well, looking at the political situation in the house of commons, we see no majority in the tories, and with a prime minister who has to implement something that she probably doesn‘t even believe in. it‘s a little bit like theresa in wonderland, borisjohnson as the march hare. there‘s much at stake,
not least for the german car industry, britain‘s its biggest export market. but when the man who represents the industry sits down with angela merkel, he doesn‘t lobby for a softer approach to britain. the first priority for us is that the remaining 27 member states stay together, and that has to be the first priority, and not making concessions that invite others to go the same way as the uk is going. brexit has stirred many emotions in the heart of germany — sorrow, frustration, confusion, and what the germans really can‘t abide, uncertainty. perhaps that is why so many here now want britain to either get on with it and leave or even change its mind and stay. jenny hill, bbc news, berlin. there has been a sharp increase in violence in indian
administered kashmir in recent weeks. in fact, 2018 has been the deadliest year in the disputed region in a decade. more than 500 people have been killed including civilians, security forces and militants. the area has long seen conflict between indian forces and armed insurgents, but this year the cycle of violence has intensified with both sides becoming more active. the bbc‘s yogita limaye reports from indian—administered kashmir. gunfire behind the fog, a bustling neighbourhood, now a battleground. these sounds have become all too common in the region. a policeman leads us to safety as a bullet flies over us. indian armed forces are fighting what are believed to be two, perhaps three, militants who are hiding in there. this gun exchange has just intensified, but the operation has been going on all through the night, for the past 12 hours. and it‘s these kind of operations that the armed forces have really
ramped up this year. there have been more than 100 in 2018 alone. a few hours later, it ended. six homes destroyed, three militants killed. scores have been shot down this year. firdaus ahmed mir died in a similar gun battle in november. demanding freedom from indian rule, thousands came to his funeral, as they do every time a militant dies. for his family, firdaus man is a martyr, a son they‘re proud of. translation: it was his mission to fight for the people of kashmir. there are a lot of atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters. he couldn‘t stand this. on the other side of this battle, more death, more grief. army man mukhtar ahmad malik was shot by militants when he was at home on leave. "kashmir is tired of this situation," his mother tells me. "it‘s better to bomb this place and finish it once and for all." there‘s been a sharp increase in targeted killings of security
personnel in recent months. with the death toll mounting on both sides, i ask a senior policeman what they‘re achieving. we cannot sit and keep on watching militants with weapons roaming in villages, attacking people, and gaining ground. no, we just cannot afford to watch that. we have to act. caught in the crossfire, civilians like firdousa sheikh, a pregnant woman who was killed just outside her home. she leaves behind a family in despair, a daughter who is too scared to go out of the house now. in village after village, there are stories like these. in villages, attacking people, and gaining ground. we cannot sit and keep on watching militants with weapons roaming in villages, attacking people, and gaining ground. no, we just cannot afford to watch that. we have to act. caught in the crossfire, civilians like firdousa sheikh, a pregnant woman who was killed just outside her home. she leaves behind a family in despair, a daughter who is too scared to go out of the house now. in village after village, there are stories like these. in this trail of destruction,
no family left untouched. yogita limaye, bbc news, in indian kashmir. all flights in and out of london gatwick, britain‘s second busiest airport, have been suspended because two drones were seen flying near the runway. many passengers have been left facing long delays. it‘s believed at least twenty inbound planes were diverted to other airports. officials at gatwick have apologised for any inconvenience but say safety is the foremost priority. one stranded passenger told the bbc he‘s angry about the drones — and the airport‘s response. they should know better, shouldn‘t be? they should be jailed. that‘s ridiculous. it‘s because there‘s tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of planes that have been delayed. it‘s absolutely ludicrous. the main thing is gatwick has given no information, everything is shut.
why haven‘t they got an information desk (the all these people standing about. the one we‘re at, their standing around, we‘re not going anywhere. it‘s ridiculous. one unhappy voice at gatwick. stay with us on bbc world news, still to come: a furious row erupts in the house of commons as the labour leader denies calling the prime minister a stupid woman. after eight months on the run, saddam hussein has been tracked down and captured by american forces. saddam hussein is finished because he killed our people, our women, our children. the signatures took only a few minutes, but they brought a formal end to 3.5 years of conflict, conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives. before an audience of world leaders, the presidents of bosnia, serbia and croatia put their names to the peace agreement. the romanian border was sealed and silent today.
romania has cut itself off from the outside world in order to prevent the details of the presumed massacre in timisoara from leaking out. from sex at the white house to a trial for his political life, the lewinsky affair tonight guaranteed bill clinton his place in history as only the second president ever to be impeached. very glad to have you with us on bbc news. the latest headlines for you: us forces are being withdrawn from syria, with president trump claiming the islamic state group had now been defeated there. the white house decsision has been criticised by many. the european commission has published a series of measures to avoid major disruption if britain leaves the eu without a deal. more now on our top story: i asked firas maksad, director of the think tank, the arabia foundation, and a specialist on american foreign policy in the middle east,
if the decision to pullout us troops would actually make much difference. it seems christmas came early so to speak in moscow, tehran and ankara. however, us allies that have been lobbying hard now for a number of months to try to get iranian troops out of syria are left with this conundrum that it‘s actually the us that is leaving, not iran. this is a very difficult moment for us allies, it will probably have long—lasting repercussions in terms of the trustworthiness of the us as an ally for those in the region. you wouldn‘t have to be too cynical perhaps to see it as a distraction tactic from mr trump‘s mounting legal and political problems at home. do you think that‘s unfair? there‘s certainly a domestic angle that many view as feeding into this decision, but the key moment here seems to be a phone call that president trump had with president erdogan of turkey on friday. turkey has been wanting the us
to end its support for kurdish forces in syria for quite some time now, it sees them as a terrorist group, and frankly president erdogan had done president trump evader in the lead up to the november election by releasing an evangelical christian pastor. that is crucial to support in the trump political base. it seems president trump wanted to return the favour. president erdogan faces elections this spring and the kurdish issue is very important to turkey. just briefly on the domestic issues, suggestions are i think that mr trump‘s core voters might not care that much about american foreign policy, they would be happy, though, to see american troops out of harm‘s way. yes, there‘s certainly that element, too. i mean, president trump has long campaigned during his election to get us forces out of the middle east, having us forces in that part of the world has never been a popular proposition in the united states. so, in many ways, yes, this has been a long way coming. president trump had announced
earlier in the year, in april, that he wanted to withdraw us troops. the foreign policy establishment in washington pushed hard against that, the pentagon, the state department, professionals at the national security council, but it seems trump never let go of that idea and was never comfortable staying in syria. firas maksad from the arabia foundation. a row is continuing over whether labour‘sjeremy corbyn called theresa may a "stupid woman" during prime minister‘s questions. he‘s denied it and claims that what he said was "stupid people". our chief political correspondent vicki young reports. rowdy scenes in the house of commons — nothing new there, but this went way beyond the usual heated exchanges. speaker: order! calm down! asjeremy corbyn left the chamber, conservative mps accused him of misogyny, and this was what they‘d witnessed minutes before. oh, yes, he is! oh, no, he isn't! theresa may with a seasonal, pantomime—themed attack
on the labour leader. look behind you! they're not impressed, and neither is the country. jeremy corbyn looked furious, and then this. he insists he muttered "stupid people". plenty of others think he said "stupid woman." the prime minister‘s team had to quickly explain to her what they‘d seen. everybody in this house, particularly in this 100th year anniversary of women getting the vote, should be aiming to encourage women to come into this chamber. tory mps leapt to their feet. i saw it, sir. i saw him say it. he muttered words which were quite clearly visible, accusing the prime minister of being a "stupid woman". disgraceful! conservative mps and ministers tried and failed to persuade the speaker to watch the video footage circulating on social media. then, a jaw—dropping moment, as the speaker himself came under attack. ..why it is that when an opposition
memberfound that you had called me a "stupid woman", you did not apologise in this chamber. no, no, no... mr bercow said he‘d dealt with that matter months ago. all political parties say they want to do more to encourage women to take part in politics, but parliament has struggled to deal with accusations of sexism and inappropriate behaviour. today, jeremy corbyn found himself in the firing line. speaker: jeremy corbyn. this afternoon, he had to come back to the commons to explain himself to mps. i referred to those who i believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime as "stupid people". mr speaker, i did not use the words "stupid woman". senior labour figures say this was a phoney row contrived by the conservatives. of course, everyone else will make up their own minds. vicki young, bbc news, westminster. japanese government forces has said
the country has decided to withdraw from the whaling commission so it can resume on the commercial basis. according to the kyoto newsagency it will be announced before the end of the year. cuba and the united states have reached an agreement to allow cuban baseball players to play professionally in the us for the first time. cuba has traditionally produced some of the best players in the world but until now, they could onlyjoin major league baseball teams in the us and canada if they defected from the communist—run island. kim gittleson has more. baseball of course is america‘s pastime, but the sport has long been popular in cuba as well, we‘re even fidel castro was known to run the bases. but for nearly five decades, those who made it to cuba‘s big league faced a difficult choice. stay in the country, earning
sometimes as little as $50 a month, 01’ sometimes as little as $50 a month, or defect to the united states in the hopes of making it big in the major league. like puig, who made his way to the los angeles dodgers via a human trafficker who subjected him to appalling conditions. it is situations like is that prompted america‘s major league baseball and cuban america‘s major league baseball and cu ban authorities to america‘s major league baseball and cuban authorities to reach this agreement. it states that cuban players above the age of 25 who have played in the cuban league for release six years will no longer have to defect from the communist country in order to play in the major league. translation: this is a secure way we have always streamed off for a mac children and their families, and our athletes canjoin in any league in the mlb. officials say they have been granted government approval from both say they have been granted government approvalfrom both us say they have been granted government approval from both us and cuban government approval from both us and cu ban authorities, but government approval from both us and cuban authorities, but some cuban americans who want the us to put pressure on the cuban country have
been angered. in a tweet, us congressmen said... but, in a country that can often seem like a blast from the past, officials said that they hoped the new terms will allow future cu ba n that they hoped the new terms will allow future cuban sluggers the opportunity to chase american home run glory. a christmas carol, one of the best—loved stories by charles dickens, is 175 years old today. the story of scrooge, the miser who is forced to become compassionate by ghosts, was written in condemnation of the child poverty that dickens saw around him. the first edition, published in december 1843, immediately sold out, and the tale has captivated people ever since. david sillito reports. # god rest you merry gentleman... "marley was dead. to begin with, there was no doubt whatever about that. the register of his burial had been signed by the clerk." a christmas carol.
simon callow is at the moment performing it onstage twice a day in this, its anniversary year. i‘m holding this very gently because this is an original a christmas carol, published exactly 175 years ago and they all sold out within five days. and while it would be going too far to say dickens invented a victorian christmas, he certainly, for millions of us, defined what christmas should be. he certainly gave christmas a meaning which it hadn‘t had before. he says, "it‘s the only time in the long calendar of the year that i know of that men and women open their closed up hearts freely and think of those below them as fellow passengers to the grave." a christmas carol, by charles dickens. who are you? what do you want? the story of scrooge and his night of ghostly encounters goes down through the generations.
what do you want with me? much. there have over the years been 73 film and tv adaptations. and marking today‘s anniversary, a display at the london pall mall gallery. this lost portrait was rediscovered in south africa, much to the delight of charles dickens‘ great—great—great—granddaughter. this is what he looked like when he wrote a christmas carol. this is him at 31 years old. and the intensity of those eyes. when you think about the campaigning in this book, this is what dickens looked like when he was writing it. thejob now, raising the money to buy it for the dickens museum. time perhaps for a bit of the spirit of a christmas carol. as tiny tim observed, "god bless us every one." david sillito, bbc news. now to a bit of modern artistry. the artist, banksy, has confirmed that a new graffiti piece that has appeared in south wales is one of his. the work, on the side of a garage in port talbot, has attracted a lot of interest,
as you might expect. it shows a young girl apparently opening her arms in joy at some christmassy snow, but then, looking round the corner, reveals what‘s falling is more likely ash from a brazier, or an industrial chimney. port talbot was a very industrial area — parts of it dramatically and visibly polluted by local industry. banksy is known for his anonymous street art pieces, which appear unannounced in public places. just briefly, the main news, american officials saying all 2000 american officials saying all 2000 american troops in syria have begun pulling out. president trump‘s announcement has been heavily criticised at home and abroad. britain questioned his assertion that so—called islamic state group in syria had been defeated. much more on all of the news any time on the bbc news website. you can reach me on twitter, i‘m @bbcmikeembley. thank you for watching. hello there.
well, as you‘ve probably already heard, the run—up to christmas is set to be a fairly mild one, with ouraircoming in off the atlantic. now, it‘s not going to be completely settled, though. there will be quite a bit of cloud and also some rain or showers at times. but a little bit of sunshine, too. now, for thursday, we‘ve still got low pressure in charge of the weather. it‘ll be anchored to the north—west of the uk. and we‘ll have a fair old breeze blowing in from the west, and that will continue to feed in showers, most of them across southern and western areas early on thursday, the odd heavy one, with many central and eastern parts seeing the longer dry spells to begin thursday. so we‘ll have a split in temperatures. where you get the showers, a bit more cloud. southern and western areas, then, temperatures around five to seven degrees. something a bit cooler, though, further north. around scotland, maybe a touch of frost in some of the glens, and maybe a little mist and fog, too. but, for thursday morning, it‘s going to be a largely dry and a bright one across many northern and eastern areas. showers, though, will get going across the west, and they may merge together to produce some longer spells of rain, some of them could be quite heavy.
and, again, it‘s going to be fairly blustery, particularly near southern and western coasts. mild in the south, 10—11 degrees. further north, these are pretty typical temperatures, in fact, for this time of year. now, as we head through thursday night, it stays quite breezy, quite showery. for a time, the showers ease down, and then we start to see some wetter and windier weather arriving across the south—west. that‘s because this next frontal system will move into the southern half of the country during thursday night into friday morning. so it could be quite wet for some. but what it will do is import even milder air across the southern half of the country, as you can see, the yellow and orange colours there. so, although it‘s going to be a really drab start to friday, a lot of surface spray, standing water on the roads, that rain should eventually clear eastwards. although its northern extent may linger on across parts of northern ireland, northern england, maybe southern scotland. so a bit of a grey day here. to the north of here, again, quite cool with a little bit of sunshine. and sunshine will move in across england and wales. and very mild, 11—14 degrees. now, into the weekend, it looks like saturday will be the driest day with that ridge of high pressure. and then these weather fronts
move in on for sunday. so i think it is a bit of a tale of two halves. there will be one or two showers across northern and eastern areas to begin saturday. otherwise, with that ridge of high pressure building in, it should turn a little bit drier. the winds a bit lighter, too, still coming in from the west, and we should see a good deal of sunshine around, particularly further south and east where you are. ten to 12 degrees, very mild again in the south. around nine or ten in the north. sunday looks wetter and windier across the board. and, as we head on into monday, it looks like it could turn a little bit cooler in the north. this is bbc news. the headlines: us officials say that all 2,000 american troops in syria have begun pulling out of the country. president trump‘s announcement has been heavily criticised at home and abroad. britain, a major ally of the us, questioned mr trump‘s assertion that islamic state militants in syria had been defeated. the us central bank, the federal reserve, has again raised interest rates, despite repeated appeals by donald trump not to do so. they have gone up by 0.25%,
taking them to 2.5%. shares sank after the announcement. the european commission has published a series of contingency measures designed to limit any damage caused by a no—deal brexit. the measures include temporarily allowing british airlines to operate flights into and out of the eu, but not within it. now on bbc news, click.