this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris. the final stretch, only one more hour until iowa casts their first vote in the 2016 presidential race. and then it's on to new hampshire. global health crisis, the world health organization holds an emergency meeting on the zika vi virus. and the environmental impact of flint's water crisis. ♪
after months of debates, years of fund-raising, a seemingly endless amount of discussion, the 2016 presidential election gets underway in earnst in less than an hour. tonight the first votes will be cast during the iowa caucuses. the latest des moines register poll shows donald trump with a 5-point lead over ted cruz. the contest looks even closer on the other side, where hillary clinton is holding on to a 3-point lead over center bernie sanders. that is within the margin of error. michael shure is lye for us in des moines tonight. and michael give us some things to look for tonight, which is the same as saying, what are you looking forward to tonight? >> reporter: i'm looking forward to finally being able to talk about the horse race with tony
harris. that's what i'm looking forward to. tony, i know you wanted to avoid the horse race, you can't do it tonight. i'm in a republican caucus room in polk county, iowa, and it's hard to imagine, but in a little while there will be about 60 to 100 people in here caucusing. it's a majority democratic polling area. but a lot of people are going to be coming over from the democratic side to vote for donald trump so we have been told, tony. >> yeah, you are right, brother. can't ignore it, we're pasting votes tonight. we're talking about cruz, and donald trump and bernie sanders and hillary clinton. but there are other candidates. any chance of a surprise from those somewhere in the middle of the pack or even the bottom of the pack here? >> reporter: there may be. if you look at the middle of the back on the republican side, you should see marco rubio showing
up a little bit than he has. some people breaking from ben carson may go to marco rubio. it may be too early for that for rubio. in that sort of coalescing may not happen until later state. look at jeb bush he hasn't campaigned a lot here, though he spent a ton of money, and only polled at 2%. and a lot of iowa voters break very late. we're going to look also out towards the democrats. we're going to see where the martin o'malley voters break. when they sit and talk in the caucus room, they are trying to convince each other to come over to each other's side, if martin o'malley isn't viable, he'll have to go to -- or his supporters will have to go to hillary clinton or bernie sanders. >> history has shown iowa
doesn't always pick the president. i guess it did the last couple of presidents, but tonight could significantly, would you say, change the race? what are the chances people could wake up to something different than they are hearing going into this voting tonight? >> well, we hear a couple of things. there has been this craze for bernie sanders. he has been campaigning in a large part on college campuses in countries like story, blackhawk, johnson, there are a huge number of students in those places. but they only make up over 20% of the democratic voters, so it could be that hillary clinton's strategy of going all over the state and bernie sanders of -- of going to just a few places going to play out in a way that maybe sander's energy doesn't match at the polls, but there is a lot of energy. on the republican side too. listen, donald trump has been divisive, there are a lot of people that are having a problem
with him. a lot of the christian conservative voters going over to ted cruz or marco rubio. i think the upset would be if there is a surge to marco rubio. >> yeah. it is great to watch people who love what they do. and michael shure loves in stuff, so pay close attention tonight. michael good to see you. thank you. one of the biggest questions about the caucus s is why iowa? the state's population is smaller than the city of los angeles, but it's impact as you know is huge. mary snow has our report. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: yes, it's well-known that iowa is the first in the nation to weigh in on the presidential race. but less well-known are the quirks behind its caucus system. starting with why it became such a draw for white house hopefuls. in 1972 it was only by chance that democrats in iowa scheduled their caucus earlier than everyone else. >> good morning, how are you? >> reporter: in 1976,
straightforward process. after hearing from surrogates for candidates they write their votes on a piece of paper. for democrats it is more complicated. >> people physically have to stand up for their preferred candidate, so in this year's three-person race they will say everybody in favor of hillary clinton go to that corner. everybody in favor of bernie sanders go to this corner. everybody in favor of martin o'malley go to the other corner. and everybody who is undecided go to another corner. then these are called preference groups. >> reporter: in order to be viable, a preference group has to have a certain percentage of support. if it doesn't meet the threshold, the group is dissolved and other groups try to win over it's members. >> sanders people may say you really want to support bernie.
so there is lots of horse tradings and cajoling like that. it's really interesting to watch. >> reporter: but iowa's system has its pitfalls, and iowa had egg on its face in 2012 when party leaders declared mitt romney the winner of the caucus. only two announce two weeks later, there had been a miscount. rick santorum was the actual winner, and many argue that mistake cost santorium all-important momentum. this year, iowa is working to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. >> i love talking to this lady, she is an opinion page columnist at the da mean register, and see is joining me from des moines. i have a bunch of questions for you -- >> fire away. >> yeah. yeah. what stinks for iowa in terms of turnout this evening, and on
either side of this race, which candidate has the momentum? >> well, i think the candidates that have the momentum going in are definitely donald trump and both hillary clinton and bernie sanders, quite frankly. i mean we haven't seen a real change in who has got the mow p -- momentums. but we see ted cruz lagging behind a little bit. what is really interesting is 46 or 47% of likely iowa caucus goers say they could still be persuaded to change their minds. so you never know. >> what about turnout? what is a good number for turnout? give me a way of thinking about turnout tonight as i watch the results come in? >> you know, i mean, turnout has historically actually been rather low in caucuses. 20% of the population.
so what we're looking for -- and one thing that is putting a damper on it is the weather, we are expecting blizzard-like conditions later, but we're afraid that could surpress voter turnout especially among older voters. on the democratic side older women tend to strongly support hillary clinton. younger women tend to be more in support of bernie sanders, so -- and there are a lot of interesting demographic mix-ups, younger people in general tend to support bernie sanders even though he is the oldest candidate in the race. so, yeah, a lot of things could determine that, and also there are college campuses that are not allowing -- that don't have a blanket policy of allowing students to caucus, because a lot of them have classes at night. so that's another thing we're look for. previously students were at home
in their regional districts during the caucuses. now school is back in session, so it's little bit later. and then it won't effect what happens in those moral areas which tend to be more conservative. so that's another thing we're looking for. >> matthew doud said if trump wins iowa there will be a sonic boom that goes off across the country. what a donald trump win in iowa mean for the republican party? >> well, first of all, iowa's republican party tends to be heavily dominated by christian evangelical conservatives. so it will say that donald trump is going in with the support of evangelical conservatives. it is clear he is not really
that familiar with the bible. and it is something that the evangelical conservatives have addressed and said he is this strong man. there's this perception that he is a very strong person, that he can stand up to isis, and stand up to other countries, and that he can make america the strongest, greatest country in the world, and that's what voters seem to be looking at him to do. so it tells you a lot about this muscle-flexing america vision he is trying to put forward. >> you have -- perfect. so the mood of the iowa populous, if you could, nationally i'm told by pundits that americans feel insecure, that they are worried about their place in the world, never mind the fact this is still the strongest safest country on the face of the planet by miles, what are iowans -- what do they feel? what is their mood going into
the caucuses tonight? >> there are a lot of paradoxes. so people who tend to feel like their country -- like people like them are not getting a fair shake in this country tend to be supporting either bernie sanders or donald trump. so the people who are supporting donald trump are people who feel like they are not getting a decent shake. this whole political correctness thing he claims is hurting people in their livelihoods. one of the big paradoxes is people who feel like they are not getting a fair shake seem to be at the bottom of the income scale, and they would not benefit from his tax plan. but people look at him and -- >> you just said he is a good actor. look. look my last question to you is this, and then i have got to have you back, because i need to
understand what is going on here. do you have a media critique on this campaign so far just less than an hour before the first votes are cast? do you believe -- >> yes. >> -- do you subscribe to the belief that at this point the big media houses, and we snow who they are, have through negligence marginalized bernie sanders while providing the wall-to-wall coverage that has actually elevated donald trump? sglrn well, i mean it's interesting that you say that, because donald trump is very angry at the media. he feels they have not served them well. he does not allow the des moines register to cover any of his events because all of the editorials that have been written about him is universally negative. it doesn't seem to matter what he does, he still gets people
following him. >> yes. >> i think the big media did not take bernie sanders seriously enough in the beginning. and he didn't take himself that seriously as a candidate in me beginning. he wasn't sure whether to get into the race, but now he does, and now he is getting coverage. >> yeah, we talked about that last week. great to see you, as always. a pleasure. thank you. at the bottom of the hour, iowa's millennials had a profound effect on the vote eight years ago. why they may not have the same impact this year. iowa is any path of a major snow storm. kevin corriveau is here with the latest. >> that's right. we have been tacking this, and it has held fairly true to its track. if it was six to eight hours later we would be seeing major problems. you can see all of the snow
towards the southwest. i want to know what iowa would be seeing, as colorado was seeing earlier. over 500 flights were canceled just at denver airport alone today. that's one-third of all of its daily flights. things will get better tomorrow, but the storm is making its way towards the northeast and heading towards iowa. here is the state of iowa. we are now picking up the rain out here towards the southwest. all of that snow that you see in nebraska is on its way over. these are all of the storm warnings in place. we're talking from colorado up towards the great lakes, but what we're more concerned about is the blizzard warnings that are in effect right now for northwestern iowa. the good thing is these blizzard warnings do not go into effect
for iowa until about 3:00 am local time there. so things are not going to get too, too bad until we go towards tomorrow. visibility down to a quarter of a mile, which means you cannot get on the roads. and tomorrow that blizzard is going to go all day long. so people will really be hunkering down. we have a lot of people that are not going to go anywhere tomorrow. >> but it looks like that window opens up for snow post the caucuses. >> yes. >> okay. that's good news. travel enough tomorrow. kevin thank you. still ahead, a global health emergency because of the zika virus. 19 cases confirmed in puerto rico. and a new report on the deadly amtrak derailment in philadelphia.
so the world health organization has declared the zika outbreak an international emergency. the director general called for immediate action at a special meeting today. >> a coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of inflections, the detection of complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests, and vaccines to protect people at risk. >> so by now you know the disease is spread through mosquito bites and may be linked
to birth defects in babies. scientists say it could take years before vaccines could be developed. until then as many as 4 million people could become effects. the cdc has issued travel warnings to various countries, including puerto rico where there are now 19 confirmed cases. robert has more. robert? >> reporter: puerto rico as you know, already in a deep fiscal crisis, owing nearly $70 billion, and the last thing this island needs a health epidemic that some scientists are calling explosive. puerto ricoian health officials are warning residents and tourists to take the zika virus seriously. >> our main concern is that pregnant women are not going to take all of the necessary steps or those that intend to get
pregnant, might not take all of the necessary steps to protect themselves. >> reporter: that's because in brazil, an outbreak of microcephaly cases, a devastating condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain emerged last october. health officials suspect agency sa -- zika is a potential cause. >> we really are advising that pregnant women seriously consider postponing travel to these areas if possible. >> reporter: as the island paradise of puerto rico is on high alert, officials with the world health organization are meeting in geneva, switzerland. and on monday they announced the outbreak in the americas is an international health emergency. >> the level of concern is high as is the level of uncertainty.
questions abound. we need to get some answer quickly. >> zika virus, a mosquito transmitted virus, symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and con junk ta vie advertise. just one in five become ill. the latest out break in over 20 countries in the caribbean, central america, south america, and puerto rico. >> there's a lot of anxiety as to what does this really mean? and unfortunately for zika, we don't have that many answers. >> reporter: for tourists, many are taking precautions. some thing the government is not getting the word out fast enough. >> i'm not aware of that. so i don't think they have
probably done a lot as far as public service announcements. >> no vaccine is available. it is likely to be years off, so techniques like disposing of shallow standing water, fumigating streets, and spraying one's body with deet is the only resistance. already experiencing a dire financial crisis in the billions. puerto rico is paying close attention to the spread of the zika virus, making sure tourists continue to travel here, feeding the economy. we talked to the cdc earlier today, and they confirmed that there are five cases of pregnant women with the zika virus in the united states. those are travel related. they did not contract that virus in the u.s. also we know that these birth defects that are supposedly being looked into, there's no actual definition or distinction
as to whether or not zika is causing these birth defecting. but the w.h.o. and the cdc are looking into it, and that's why they are taking such big precautions with woman that are pregnant. >> yeah, that makes sense. robert ray for us in san juan. a no-smoking gun for the cause of the amtrak detailment. among the findings, the train was traveling more than twice the speed limit. al jazee al jazeera east erika pitzi is here. >> reporter: while the report does not place blame on anyone, it focuses a lot on the engineer. shortly after the crash, he said he had a very foggy memory of what went wrong, but now apparently details are becoming more clear. amtrak 188 was traveling between washington and new york when it veered off the tracks in may of last year, killing eight people and injuring 200 more.
monday thousands of pages of documents were released. the train's engineer who suffered a concussion, shedding little light into the cause. some of the victims criticized the engineer for changing his story many times. >> was no memory of the he person in this tragedy. afters after the event. and then there is an elaborate description of what he remembers and doesn't remember, and mainly we focused on what he says he recalls. and what he recalls is he was operating the train, knowing where he was. >> reporter: he told the ntsb he remembered very little in the moments before the crash, but in a second interview, he said he remembered having a dream-like memory that the train was going too fast.
telling investigators he thought, quote, this is it, i'm going over. >> we do not believe he had a medical condition which allowed memory to seep back into his head. we believe that his inconsistent story speaks volumes about him and his credibility and believability at trial. >> reporter: among the other findings was this key video, showing the moment the train fell off of the tracks. according to the released documents the train had been traveling at 106 miles per hour, where the speed element was only 50 miles an hour. he also told investigators that while he was comfortable with the locomotive he had only sporadic experience on the model he was driving. investigators ruled that he ever used his cell phone during the trip. the ntsb document ls also revealed more detailed information about the crash
sitsite attorneys argue that the blame lies with the conductor alone. >> there was no problem with the signals. no problem with the tracks no problem with the locomotive, no problem with the brakes, so what we learned was the problem was this boshtan. >> reporter: so this is really still in the fact-finding phase. >> all right. erika pitzi for us. erika, thank you. up next in the program, why some republican candidates are skipping the hawkeye state and focusing on new hampshire instead.
>> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the soundbites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is. ♪ okay. the first official votes in the 2016 race for the white house are being cast tonight. the process gets underway in less than half an hour at the iowa caucuses. the latest poll shows donald trump with a 5-point lead over ted cruz. hillary clinton tops the democratic field, but her lead is within the margin of error of the polls, making the race a statistical dead heat. ali velshi is in des moines
monitoring tonight's results ali, good to see you. what are you expecting tonight? >> i'm hoping it is not going to be like the last time i covered the iowa caucus, i was covering it until the sun came up. ballot boxes had gone missing. they declared mitt romney the winner, when the winner was rick santorum. tonight the republicans and democrats will be using -- the precinct captains will be using their phones to report in the results. that doesn't solve any bad counting problems, but they will be transported quickly. this process for people who are not involved in a caucus, tony is businessen tine. and there are 1600 prefer republicans and democrats, ones you are in the place you cast a vote and it's a formal election.
for the democrats everybody standings at a different part of the room, and you have to get at least 15%. so it's complicated and that's why it is prone to errors. iowa caucuses are right about half of the time about who ends up being president, but in this case, we have had good weather today, we probably have a blizzard working in later tonight, but that is going to come in late enough that it won't effect outcome. so if there is a big turn out, it benefits bernie sanders and donald trump. that's where we are right now. >> can i ask you a question, ali? >> yeah. >> you know, the pundits tell me that americans are afraid. they feel unsafe. they feel insecure. they are not sure about their place in the world. they are concerned about their financial futures. >> uh-huh. >> do you see that kind of concern in all of those areas,
reflected among the iowans you had opportunity to speak with? >> yeah, it's a little different in iowa. i think that is going to start to play out in new hampshire, and certainly more in south carolina, where economic disparity plays a bigger part. iowa is a little more homogenous. the people being of faith here, christian evangelicals, that plays a bigger part. they are more social conservatives here in iowa. the idea of insecurity, physical, or economic, or insecurity from terrorism, these are all issues, but they are not the ones playing out right now. people want to know who is devout, who has conservative values, who is going to stand for what they share, what they believe in iowa. it just happens to be the first time tonight that someone is going to indicate who they want
to vote for president of the united states. ali velshi thank you. min -- mill -- millennials could play a big part in tonight's vote. there is duarte geraldino in des moines for us. and are we expecting millennials to actually show tonight? >> reporter: absolutely. i'm at drake university where there are five precincts. right now i'm in the room where the democratic caucuses are taking place. you can see how many people are packed in here. they are divided between what side their candidate is going to take. o'malley, hillary clinton, bernie sanders. so right now these particular voters, this group, many at the presidential voters believe will
have the make or break power in this election. just days before the caucus, training at drake university for millennials to have never been to one. it's a hands on lesson in what happens in an iowa caucus. iowa is a farming state and more than nine in ten iowas are white. but many young people hold diverse views. >> there is a huge disproportionate number of color peopled that are locked up. the suffering that my block brothers and sisters are enduring is heart breaking. >> we went through obama being elected, and the invasion of iraq, and the financial crisis, i think those things shape at the way we look at the world.
>> i think the biggest issue would be a free market, obviously. >> reporter: these are faces of young iowans. this man leads drake university's student republicans. he says the supreme court's ruling allowing gay marriage, making it easier to recruit those who are socially liberal. >> we feel this is not as much as an issue, and therefore the party is more welcoming? >> absolutely. i think gay marriage is a big dividing issue, especially for millennials. >> since the time we got married four or five months ago now, five months ago, almost, and had the honeymoon and bought the house and now it's the caucus, and we have been go go go go, and we're ready to sit and put our feet up, and now we're
married. >> reporter: richard is worried federal deficits could hurt his family's future. >> just like we have to balance our budget, we have to make that work. but for some reason our federal government does don't that. i believe if we don't get the numbers right in the next decade, my kids are not going to have the life that i want them to have, that the american dream says they should have. >> reporter: brea is president of drake university's student democrats. she is concerned about the collapse of the middle class. >> i hold two jobs. i go to school two times, and i still can't make it. i have been very unfortunate. i was born white in an upper class family, and even i feel the effects of this, let alone the minority populations who feel it worse. >> reporter: as a generation they are considered unreliable
voters. in the past they just haven't turned out big numbers. the caucus process is not just a game of numbers. in 2008 the caucuses were held in january when college students were on break, not on campus. this year is different. students will be back at school, but their impact may be limited to several pockets around the state, mostly college towns. rachel is a political scientist and director of the iowa caucus project at drake. >> so when you have a few precincts that are heavily populated by college students their votes will matter a great deal in those precincts, but statewide, that's unlikely to have a major effect on the outcome of the vote overall. >> reporter: but she also seems to leave the door open. because of millennial's ability to quickly organize online, and influence caucuses across the state, it could be different this time.
>> if you can is spark political motivation under the butts of young people, it's worth a lot of magic. >> reporter: and they are trying to tap into that very magic. i want to introduce you to a young woman who goes to drake university. come over here for a second. tell me, is this your first year taking part in this process? this >> yes, it is. first year. first time voting. >> reporter: there are a lot of people your age who people consider unlikely voters. but you turned out why? >> because my senior government class, we talked a lot about the importance of being able to represent a generation. and it's us that will be living with these presidents for a long time. and i think it's really important that we have our say in it, because we should have the right to vote and be able to have our input and live with our decisions. >> you live in illinois. your family is from illinois, and yet you are choosing to vote
here. why? >> because iowa caucus is one of the only caucuses in the united states, and it would just be great to be a part of something like this. >> reporter: how do you feel inside? >> happy. i originally wasn't .planning to vote, but then, yeah, i came and i really wanted to today. >> reporter: briefly what is your number one issue that you want the president to focus on? >> i would say, paid family leave is an important thing to me, because the united states and only one other country in the world are the only countries with paid family leave, and hillary clinton has been very strong about getting that in action, and be able to have families that can take time off with their newborn kids and still be able to maintain their standard of living. >> reporter: so you are a hilary supporter, but you are standing
on the bernie side. >> yes. >> reporter: so you have -- you have that excitement right here, and a lot of young people who really want to say it's our time to take part in this political process. >> i love that, paid family leave. that's a family issue. that's an economic issue. that was terrific. duarte appreciate it. thank you. after the votes are counted tonight, the focus turns squarely on to new hampshire where the nation's first primary takes place. lisa stark is live for us in manchester. lisa, some of the candidates are already there. i can see behind you. why skip iowa's big night? >> reporter: well, they are indeed, tony, it's all about where candidates feel they have a better shot. we are at this jeb bush townhall. in iowa he is polling at about 4%. here in new hampshire his poll numbers are twice as strong.
and there are a number of republican candidates who are gambling on the granite state. >> john kasich is the one candidate who opted out of iowa, hoping to solidify his political future which winning over voters here. howant is this state to your candidacy? >> very important. if i don't do well, i'll cry, but i'll get over it. >> reporter: kasick told a packed house that he has a positive vision for america, and urged his fellow candidates to stop the negative ads. >> take it off the air, folks. put what you are for on the air so they can make a good judgment. [ applause ] >> reporter: two of his opponents began their day in iowa but then headed straight to new hampshire. all three are trying to beat expectations to propel them
onward. the four are locked in a race to become the top choice of the g.o.p. establishment, someone to counter conservative ted cruz, and front runner, donald trump. >> second place is very important here in new hampshire. for any of them to spend all of that time here, and not get at least a second place would be devastating for their campaigns. >> reporter: this time around kasick and christie have logged more miles here than any of the other candidates. each glad handing at more than 150 stops >> let's make america great gin! >> reporter: the new york billionaire has up ended the traditional new hampshire style of small gatherings.
at the pure tin, these people had candidates on their minds. >> i really believe that trump -- >> you want the president of the united states to say something like bomb the hell out of him? [ laughter ] >> or he'll pick up his marbles and go home. >> that's right. >> i think he has got -- probably has what it takes to change things. >> reporter: on the democratic side, senator bernie sanders from neighboring vermont is expected to take the state that hillary clinton captured eight years ago during her first presidential bid. this is a state with more undeclared voters than even registered republicans and democrats, some 380,000 voters consider themselves independent. and in this open primary, they are allowed to vote for any candidate in any party. are the undeclared voters a
wild-card or not? >> they are a wild-card, but not an ace. a lot of times you read, that, well, this candidate is going to ride undeclared voters to victory. in practice it's tough to do that, because there aren't that many who are these cross-overvoters that everyone thinks they are. >> reporter: many independents, including most of these women are still perusing the political window. >> i wait as do most people i know in this state. they wait and wait, and do it at the last minute. >> reporter: voters in this state take their responsibility very, very seriously. as jeb bush told the crowd you make us walk on hot coals. it has a way of windowing out the candidates but also propelling others on to the nomination. that's what jeb bush and the other second-tier candidates are hoping this state will do for them. >> well handled lisa stark, like
the seasoned pro you are. we have continuing coverage of the iowa caucuses throughout the evening. we will bring you the results as they happen, starting at 8:00 eastern time. and finally the start of talks on syria, why a resolution could be impossible. and what flint is doing with thousands of discarded water bottles.
is emerging in flint. because all of the clean water is coming from plastic bottles, the city has to figure out what to do with all of the empties, but volunteers are taking a pro-active approach to keeping their city clean. bisi onile-ere with more. >> reporter: for the past week, 28-year-old janay, and a group of volunteers have been hitting the pavement. since michigan governor rick snyder declared a state of emergency last month, nearly 200,000 cases of bottled water have been distributed. in a city still reeling from a water crisis. young is urging residents to recycle. >> we are not familiar with the process. >> reporter: there is concern that millions of water bottled could end up in landfills and harm the environment. young says curb-side recycling is available to most, but a majority of residents dot use
it. >> whenever that is full, call and we'll pick it up for you. >> shut the front door. >> it's important for our residents to know this service is available for them. >> reporter: when she is not working, the mother of two is out here. >> how are you doing sir? >> reporter: doling out fliers of recycling, picking up bags of empty bottled water, and passing out plastic bags. >> reporter: why are you doing this? >> to help my city. we have a pollution in our river, let's try to keep the city clean during this process of trying to get clean water. >> reporter: this professor said the environmental impact of those who don't recycle could have long-term implications. >> i know there's a wide-spread concern about this. i don't think that there has been a really very large coordinated effort to manage the
recycling. >> reporter: young hopes to lead by example. >> reporter: what is the reward in it for you? >> nothing, just being happy i'm doing something positive for my city is the best reward possible. >> reporter: trailers are now set up at some of the water sites where residences can return used bottles of water. but flint may need to do a whole lot more to step up its recycling efforts. bisi onile-ere, al jazeera, flint, michigan. the taliban is claiming responsible for an attack in kabul. the attack came days before a third round of peace talks between the government and the taliban. jennifer glasse has the latest. >> reporter: the bomber chose the busy moments after lunchtime to strike. he blew himself up in a line of recruits and officers. >> translator: it was a suicide
bomber who designated himself after the explosion, i saw three or four wounded people. i do not know any more. >> reporter: dozens were wounded and killed. security forces raced to the scene and sealed off the area, a main thoroughfare in kabul. many of the victims are treated at the city's emergency hospital. doctors say there were superficial wounds as well as grave ones. family members gather outside waiting for news. >> translator: i was in the area when an explosion happened and some 20 people received injuries and were lying on the ground. the type of explosion was unclear. >> reporter: a nato statement says:
on-saturday, officials from afghanistan, pakistan, china, and the united states are scheduled to meet in islamabad to try to revive the peace talks. it's unclear whether these attacks are designed toen the peace process all together, or give the taliban a better bargaining position if and when they come to the peace table. across syria, bombings killed people in several cities today. violence was reported in aleppo, hama, and latakia. more than 70 people died from three bombings in damascus yesterday. and russia announced that its air strikes hit more than 1300 isil targets in syria since last week. leaders from the syrian opposition call it an unprecedented escalation of violence. the success of any potential ceasefire could hang on the united states to play middleman. james bayes has more now from
geneva. >> reporter: after the first meeting of the syrian opposition delegation here at the u.n. headquarters in geneva. the u.n. special envoy said he felt this marked the formal start of the syria peace talks process. however, one opposition spokesman said they still want to see concrete developments on the ground. >> we came here to discuss with the special envoy the resolution 2254, you know, lifting the siege and stopping the crimes that are done by russian air strikes in syria, and i believe we received, in fact, we received very positive messages from the special envoy, and tomorrow, he -- he will have a meeting with the regime side, and we will wait for rely from
him. >> reporter: mr. de mistura also used this moment to send a message to the international syria support group. that's the key regional and international countries that have been setting up this process. he said it was now time for an immediate ceasefire. >> there was a message in the vienna meetings that when the geneva talks will actually start in parallel, there should be the beginning of a serious discussion about ceasefire. that is not something that i can discuss. this is something to be discussed at the level of the isg, and those countries who have been involved in saying that. the discussions are starting, but meanwhile the challenge is now, let's also have those who have the capacity of discussing this at different levels, time
to discuss about ceasefire. >> reporter: he said he would have further talks with the syrian government and then the opposition on tuesday. he'll be talking about humanitarian access to besieged areas. he also confirmed that he had asked the syrian opposition for a list of women and children being held in jails by the assad regime, and if he was given that list, he would give it to the government side and ask for their release. >> james bayes reporting for us from geneva. that's all of our time. thanks for watching. i'm tony harris in new york city. john siegenthaler and ali velshi are up next with special coverage of the iowa caucuses.
al jazeera america. and good evening, everyone. welcome to our special coverage of the iowa caucus. i'm john siegenthaler in new york. tonight, the first contest of the 2016 presidential race. an important night for republicans and democrats. this is a live look at a caucus at drake university in des moines. there has been a lot of talk about the polls. soon we'll find out if the polls were actually right. my coanchor ali velshi is in des