tv DW News LINKTV December 19, 2018 3:00pm-3:31pm PST
brent: this is "dw news," live from berlin. tonight, a stunning announcement from the white house. the united states is withdrawing all troops from syria. today, president donald trump declared victory over so-called islamic state in syria. state department officials will reportedly be home within 24 hours. so why are american-backed kurdish and arab troops still fighting against the jihadists? also coming up, the u.s. federal serve, as expected, raises interest rates yet again, despite pressure from the white house to reverse course. and remembering the 12 people
who lost their lives today two years ago. berlin marking the second anniversary of the christmas market terror attack. ♪ brent: i'm brent goff. it's good to have you with us. tonight, the pentagon and the united states says it has started the process of withdrawing u.s. troops from syria. it comes on orders of president donald trump. the president today hinted at the move with a tweet claiming victory over so-called islamic state. trump says that defeating isis was the only reason for the u.s. being in syria during his presidency. the 2000 american troops in the country will start leaving as soon as possible, we understand. state department officials will reportedly be out of the country within the next 24 hours.
let's go now to washington and bring in our correspondent maya shwayder on the story for us tonight. good evening to you, maya. this was a sudden decision to begin withdrawing troops from syria. it feels like a rushed decision. why has it come now? maya: the timing is definitely questionable. it seems to have caught even some of the top military brass off guard. because just days ago, or even last week, we saw the joint chief of staff saying it would be naive to assume the mission is accomplished in syria and talking about how there were still many islamic state jihadis on the ground and they do not know how many are still around. estimates range somewhere between 2000 and 30,000. so even u.s. military leaders are saying, "we need to stay on the ground. stabilization is our main goal here, and it is at risk if we leave." what we do know in terms of the timing is that u.s. troops have been working closely with
kurdish forces in the north, and kurds are quite the target of turkish president recep tayyip erdogan. and erdogan and trump have been having a series of conversations it seems over the past week, including reportedly one phone call this morning just before this announcement was made. brent: so what has been the fallout from this announcement that the troops will be coming home? maya: well, the pentagon has said that they will indeed start withdrawing their troops, but there has been a lot of concern expressed from all corners, including from within the president's own party. we have seen several prominent republican legislators come forward and say, "this is surprising, we do not know this would happen." even one of the president's staunchest defenders said, "i cannot say whether it's is the right call," even though he tends to stand by the president. other legislators saying this sounds like a really bad idea
and may further damage relations in the region, especially because with the u.s. withdrawing, that leaves a vacuum for other actors in syria such as iran or russia to grow in their influence. brent: maya shwayder on the story for us tonight in washington. maya, thank you. while president trump claims the fight against i.s. is over, the situation on the ground in syria is much more complicated. american-backed syrian democratic forces, the sdf, are still attempting to clear the town of hajin of islamic state fighters. hajin lies in the valleys of the euphrates river, close to the border with iraq. it is the last stronghold of the jihadist militia which once controlled large swathes of syria and iraq. but as the mainly kurdish sdf forces inch closer to victory, they are facing a new danger. turkey is now threatening to launch an assault against the kurds just further to the north, and there will probably be no
u.s. troops left to defend them. reporter daniel hechler sent us this report from the front line in syria. daniel: these people have escaped the clutches of the so-called islamic state. they are stranded in a camp 200 kilometers from the front line. traumatized, exhausted, but free. after days of rain and cold weather, the conditions are atrocious. but it is better than being under the guns of the i.s. fighters locked in a battle on the banks of the euphrates. >> they used us as human shields so that warplanes cannot attack from the sky. they have planted mines everywhere and they do not want to let anyone escape. >> they are criminals. dirty thieves. they took everything from us. our money as well. and then they left. daniel: the battle for the last
bit of territory held by i.s. is a tough one. the militia has lost nearly all the land it held. but around 5000 fighters are putting up fierce resistance. their leader is thought to be among them. dozens of members of the sdf have been killed in recent weeks, and that's despite air support from the united states and other allies. >> they have put booby-traps and mines everywhere. we are advancing, but slowly. and we have to take care to avoid civilian casualties. daniel: this is what is left by the fighting. the streets of hajin, the former terrorist stronghold. most of the people who lived here have fled. the mainly kurdish sdf has captured the center of the town and most of the outskirts from i.s. fighting is continuing in the
surrounding villages, too. jihadists are still managing to stage ambushes and hit-and-run attacks. >> i.s. fighters try every day to attack our units and recapture the villages, but we are pushing back with all we have. daniel: the american-backed sdf is now facing a potential enemy on another front. victory over the i.s. in the euphrates valley is within reach. but now turkey is threatening to march into kurdish controlled areas on its southern border. ankara sees the kurdish fighters as terrorists. >> these threats help i.s. precisely now when we are making gains in the fight for hajin, turkey threatens an offensive in northern syria. daniel: and that is bad news for the people still under i.s. control. not everyone has been able to flee. thousands are still trapped in the last pocket of i.s.
territory. brent: we want to bring in dw correspondent anchal vohra tracking these fast-moving movements from beirut. good evening to you. let's start with what the u.s. president claimed today, that islamic state is now finished. we see right there the fight for hajin, it continues. is that then the beginning of the end of islamic state, or is it as black and white as trump claims? anchal: well, islamic state has broadly, territoally bee defeated in syria and iraq. ere are certain pockets that continue to have some sort of rule. -- vast areas under isis's contro after that there will be certain villages under them, but sdf is also believed to be caying out operations there. when president trump says that isis has been defeated, you could say he is abou90% right. but has isis been decimated when
you talk about the online campaign, talk about the ideology? then the clear answer is no. through encrypted communications isis is still sending messages to some of us journalists about how they will regroup. they talk about how they are huge in numbers, 40,000 years ago, and they say not all them have been killed. and they will start guerria activities. so donald trump has to decide later if isis regroups and reemerges, and then he is criticized that we should have stayed for longer than we did, then what answer is he going to give? brent: that is a very good point. and wh answer is he going to give to kurdish troops? reports suggest that turkish forces might attack kurdish troops who have been instrumental in defeating i.s. and if that happens, there may be no u.s. troops left to help them. what will the implications of that be? anchal: well, the kurds in syria have wanted autonomyithin syria. but the kurdish fighters in
groups have wanted a contiguous territory along the turkish border when turkey claimed it it was clear they would not be getting continuous territory. with land forces on the ground, there was hope they could exercise leverage. if the american troops leave, then what sort of deal do they have with the syrian government here? what sort of autonomy will the kurds be getting? nothing, really. it will be really hard for them. they have had some tacit understanding with bashar al-assad, but nothing to the extent of giving them more freedom, even within syria. so the kurds would have lost out despite many of the sacrifices. this talk has been going on for quite some time. brent: all right. dw's anchal vohra reporting from beirut. anchal, thank you. here are some of the other stories now that are making headlines around the world. the european commission has
revealed plans to handle a no-deal brexit. these include measures to avoid disruptions in key sectors such as air traffic andinancial trading. british citizens' residency rights in the european union would also be protected, but new restrictions on trade and travel would come into force. the world food program says it is cutting services to palestinians in the west bank and gaza strip due to a lack of funding. 200,000 people will be affected by the cuts. one of the program's major donors was the united states, but it announced funding cuts to projects to palestinians earlier this year. here in berlin, the country is marking the second anniversary of the terror attack that left 12 people dead and dozens wounded. family and friends of victims joined berlin's mayor and other officials at a ceremony at the site of the attack. exactly two years ago, a rejected asylum seeker from
tunisia named anis amri hijacked a truck, killed its driver, and plowed into a crowded christmas market. amri escaped but was shot dead by police in italy a few days later. we met with a survivor of that attack whose life has not been the same since. >> as i turned around i saw the truck just in the nick of time. it was already in the square coming towards me. it passed by me within half a meter. it was a horrific sight. straight after the attk, there was a deathly silence. you could have heard a pin drop. it was a brief moment of total silence. reporter: two years ago, andreas schwartz survived a horrific ordeal. islamic extremist anis amri plowed a heavy truck into a christmas market in berlin's breitscheidplatz, killing 12
people. andreas schwartz was able to jump out of the way, injuring himself in the process. >> i witnessed it. i did not see all 12 people die, but i did see four or five die. that was intense, seeing people lying there injured on the ground. i was injured myself. the next morning i woke up in my bed in my clothes, in my jacket and my shoes. everything was smeared with blood. reporter: now, two years later, police and heavy barriers protect the christmas market. a memorial pays tribute to the dead. but schwartz rarely comes here anymore. he still struggles daily with memories of the attack and is in trauma counseling. schwartz is searching for answers to many unresolved questions. he does not miss a single meeting of the committee investigating the attack. >> i want clarification. i'm still looking for answers, and that is important to me and to the other relatives and victims who are not here, who do not have the energy to come, so that we can at least answer
their questions. if you give up now, there is a danger that the subject gets forgotten, and it definitely should not be forgotten. reporter: schwartz blames the authorities, saying they could have prevented the attack by keeping closer tabs on amri or putting him under arrest. he no longer works in his former job as a truck driver. he received 9000 euros in compensation and now lives off unemployment benefits. the attack has become part of his daily life. >> i'm still struggling with it. it is always there at the back of my mind. i would like to know why i had to experience something like that. what went wrong? reporter: schwartz will keep on doing what he is doing, criticizing the authorities and raising awareness so that the 12
people who died on breitscheidplatz will not be forgotten. brent: staying here in germany, a school has refused to admit a child of a politician who belongs to the far-right alternative for germany party, the afd. that decision has triggered a debate. should children pay the price for their parents' decisions? reporter: steiner schools aim to produce well-rounded people through art and music, practical learning, and social education. a high-minded and ambitious project. but one child in berlin will not be benefiting from it, since this steiner school decided not to accept him. the reason? his father is a politician for the far-right alternative for germany party. in a press release, the school said opposition from many parents had led to a conflict so that there is quote, no opportunity to admit the child without prejudice and bias.
the afd has been quick to cry foul. >> those who decided that should question whether they acted correctly and whether this is the climate of opinion we want to have in germany. i think it is fine to argue with a political opponent, but children should be left out of it. reporter: that unease has been echoed in the media and by politicians of other parties. >> i think it is a big problem if children are being made liable for the parent's political views. it is the school's task to teach the students to be independent characters and democratic individuals. reporter: the school, which is independent of berlin's state school system, also says its places are heavily oversubscribed. but the moral question here is whether choices about which school a child can go to should be affected by the politics of the parents. brent: the british artist banksy always creates a buzz with a new piece. that is something people in the welsh town of port talbot are experiencing.
now that banksy confirmed a graffiti representing the town's air pollution. he says it is his work. it is called seasons greetings. the image appears on two sides of a garage. the twist is the snow is falling ash from a fire. locals have erected a fence to protect the mural by the artist, whose identity remains a secret. does sports news now, bayern munich is reportedly set to activate the 80 million euro release clause of lucas hernandez. spanish media outlets are saying that bayern are prepared to shatter the transfer record to sign the france world cup winner. according to the report, hernandez would join the club january 1 when the transfer window opens. the bundesliga tonight, bayern have found form with a win in the early game. there was singing and fireworks
before the match as schalke commemorated the closure of the last coal mine in the region. the runner ups fire on the pitch yet again. bayern is playing lights it now. you can see the highlights of both games in our bundesliga show from just after 23:00, that's 11:00 p.m. utc time. the german astronaut alexander gerst has handed over control of the international space station to a russian colleague before returning to earth. gerst has been in orbit for more than six months. time flies, doesn't it? carrying out important experiments aboard the iss. he is now ready for the journey home and should be back home in time for breakfast on thursday. >> congratulations, oleg. reporter: when the bell rang, alexander gerst's time as captain of the international space station came to an end. protocol on the iss requires that he hand over a
key, symbolizing the command to cosmonaut oleg artemyev. for 2.5 months, gerst was in charge of security and operation for the iss, the first german to hold the position. i will miss this place, he tweeted. his twitter account is chock full of fascinating photos from space. but he was also kept busy doing scientific research. >> i am waiting for your commands. reporter: experiments with technology, artificial intelligence, materials, muscles, bones. the land-based mission leader is pleased with the results. >> we have completed 98% or 99% of our program. that is a real accomplishment. reporter: there were tense times on board the iss. a hole was discovered in the wall of a transport pod. gerst's colleagues took a spacewalk to repair it. the cause of the hole is still being investigated. but gerst's mission has reached its end. if all goes to plan, he will land in the plains of kazakhstan
early thursday morning. brent: back here on earth, it is over to christoph now, and the rates rise fed watchers were anticipating. christoph: that's right. just over an hour ago, the u.s. federal reserve made the announcement that it has hiked its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%. u.s. fed chairman jerome powell said the central bank expected the economy to continue performing well next year, but it projects just two rate hikes in 2019 amid concerns about the trade dispute with china and signs of slowing gbal trade and economic growth. higher interest rates tend to weigh on economic growth because they make it more expensive for businesses and consumers to borrow money. so for more, let's cross over to our man on wall street, jens korte.
jens, the fed expects growth to slow somewhat at least, to moderate. why does it still raise rates? jens: yeah, it is not that there are no growth concerns around at all, but so far the federal reserve still projects economic growth of about 2.3%. that is a bit less than the originally expected 2.5%, but that is still pretty solid. jerome powell pointed out that we saw this year the best economic growth since the financial crisis, and we are in the midst, or at least right in the longest expansion phaases that the u.s. economy has seen in history, and therefore the federal reserve has the feeling that two more rate hikes in 2019 are justified. christoph: jens, this rate hike has widely been expected. why is the dow still dropping more than 300 points? jens: well, i would say that we
pretty much dropped like a rock. we were up by about 300 points before the news of the fed meeting broke, and then we dropped by almost 400 points here on wall street. i would think that we have a couple of factors going on. one is that a lot of market participants were hoping that we might even only see one more rate hike next year. and that the federal reserve is not saying that they are going to be more data dependent, but they are clearly hinting at two more rate hikes next year. that seems to be a bit more aggressive than the market expected. christoph: and i just checked, no new tweets, but surely president trump is not happy about the news. higher interest rates make financing debt more expensive. jens: well, but jerome powell repeatedly said that politics do not play a role at all in the rate decision.
so, they do not get influenced by u.s. president donald trump. but clearly higher rates could be a damper on economic growth. with higher rates we might also see an increase in mortgage rates, so that could be a damper on the u.s. housing industry. we also might see a stronger dollar. so there might be some negative effects of the u.s. economy if rates will increase further from this point. christoph: jens korte reporting from wall street in new york. jens, thank you. the european union and the italian government have resolved their budget battle. brussels accepted a revised proposal, but it looks like italy's populist government came out on top here. as a concession to eu's demands rome lowered its projected deficit spending, but it will still pick up much more fresh debt than the previous government had promised, piling onto an already threateningly high pile of liabilities. reporter: italy's capital rome.
now it seems the country and the eu have reached a consensus. the italian government promised to set new debt a 2.04% of gdp next year instead of the 2.4% as originally planned. brussels has agreed to this, so there's no threat of sanctions. italians are relieved. >> it's important that italy works with the european union. there is no sense fighting against europe. >> i see it as a good thing. i hope this government can move forward with the things they planned. now they can work on all their plans in the future. the way i see it, i do not like thinking all the time that things could go wrong. reporter: the italian government is a coalition of the right-leaning league and populist five-star movement. both want to finance expensive election promises, including a basic income and a lower
retirement age. but at around 130% of gdp, italy's mountain of debt is second only to greece. christoph: let's talk about a sector in crisis. in the old days, everything in the croatian coastal region near the city of pula revolved around ship building. but because of outdated technologies and mismanagement, croatian shipyards have been unable to withstand foreign competition. now businesses are going bankrupt and thousands of jobs are on the line. reporter: the harbor of pula, practically a ghost town. the once flourishing croatia shipbuilding indtry is slowly perishing, and the decline seems unstoppable. >> the situation is bad. the salaries are late. people are leaving i saw photos today from otests we organized this year, and half of the people in these photos are no longehere. soon we will not have enough pele to organize a protest, let alone build a ship.
reporter: in recent months, workers have repeatedly taken to the streets to demand their unpaid salaries. as well as aid from brussels. but the protests did not bear any fruit. in the 1980's, croatia's shipyards were still some of the world's best. but the collapse of yugoslavia took its toll, despite financial injections from the government. this year alone, customers canceled contracts to have nine ships built. the reason? the heavily indebt shipyard cannot honor its delivery agreements. >> bankruptcy is a danger that we have been facing since the start of the crisis. when we received rescue aid we already ew that it was not repaid on time, if the restructuring program was not adopted, the alternative would be bankruptcy or even liquidation. reporter: the yard still employs 4500 employees.
about a quarter of them are said to be on the verge of leaving to look for new jobs abroad. christoph: a reminder of the top story we're following for you at this hour. the u.s. military has begun withdrawing from syria after president donald trump took to twitter to claim victory over so-called islamic state. the news came as u.s.-backed kurdish and arab forces battle to oust i.s. fighters from the last stronghold of syria. you're watching "dw news," coming to you live from berlin. after a short break brent will be back to take you through "the day." stick around. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]