our website, aljazeera.com. ♪ syrian opposition fighters prepare to defend aleppo as government forces make a break through north of the city. ♪ good to have your company. i'm david foster. you are watching al jazeera live from london. also in this program, three palestinians were shot dead as a policewoman is killed in a gun attack in jerusalem. suspicious cargo, why japan is putting its military on alert over a north korean satellite launch. hours before a powerful grade deal comes into effect,
activists say they are still committed to having it overturned. ♪ syrian government forces have now reached two towns in the north of the country as part of a major offensive around aleppo that has seen syria's military tightening its grip on the region, capturing a number of important sites. the military trying to cut supplies to the city. with the help of russian air strikes they have captured two areas, and now they have broken through rebel-held areas in the north. it's all part of a wider objective to cut off rebel fighters in the north and prevent reinforcements from going through. zana hoda has more. she is in a turkish city near the border with syria.
>> reporter: syrian state television is reporting that government troops along with their allies on the ground have reached the towns predominantly shiite towns, pro-government towns, they managed to cut through rebel-held territory. this is undoubtedly a strategic win for the government. the offensive was launched approximately 48 hours ago. they used heavy fire power. they were backed by russian air strikes, and we managed to speak to opposition commanders on the ground today, and they were not confident that they would be able to rebel this advance. they were telling us that the bombardment was unprecedenteded. now the government has reached these loyalist towns. they have lifted the siege, and at the same time the objective of this operation was to sever the supply lines from turkey. so right now,
opposition-controlled districts in aleppo city, further south, are now encircled, they are cut off, and the rebel supply line from the city to the turkish border has been cut off. >> that is zana hoda in southern turkey. in switzerland diplomats are continuing to meet in geneva trying to figure out how to bring an end to the fighting. i understand we may be hearing from the u.n. envoy to syria in the next few minutes. is there any suggestion he has got something important to say? otherwise what have you got for us? >> reporter: yeah, david we have just heard that there is a scheduled press conference to be taking place at the hotel president wilson here in geneva. he is spelled to address the press in about 15 minutes. we really have no idea at this hour what he is going to say. we have no indication how those meetings that we had been holding with the opposition at
that hotel have been going. we know that there has been a great deal of frustration today amongst the opposition here. earlier in the day, one member of the opposition told us that russia isn't just bombing aleppo, they are also bombing the geneva talks. the opposition feel as though the russians and the regime of bashar al-assad have completely undermined these talks; that there can be no negotiations until there is some good-faith effort being shown by the syrian regime that they are serious about letting in aid, stopping sieges, stopping bombardment, releasing prisoners, and that really hasn't happened according to the opposition. so a lot remains to be seen as far as how these talks are going. the meetings that he has been holding for the last couple of hours with the opposition. we heard from the head of the syrian regime delegation here in geneva, and he spoke about what
they want to see happen going forward. let's take a listen to a little bit of what he had to say. >> we will stay as long as it is required by the formalities and the organizational matters, because we are still dealing, mainly speaking with the organizational matters. we don't know yet the -- who would be our interlocktor. we don't know yet the agenda. we don't have fully the names of participa participants. and according to the information we have acquired, many people didn't come yet, didn't arrive yet. >> reporter: the fact of the matter is, david that these talks have really come to a complete stand still yesterday and today. there is so much concern amongst diplomats here that these talks
could end in collapse. we'll get an indication as to how things are going when mr. de mistura addresses the press. i think it's fair to say that nobody thought that these talks would be easy. they all thought it would be difficult getting everybody here and then proceeding with the talks, but on the other hand nobody thought these talks would be quite this difficult, david. >> mohammed jamjoom thank you. ♪ in iraq thousands of families are running out of food in the isil-held city fallujah. the iraqi army is advancing on the city. imran khan reports from the capitol, baghdad. >> reporter: fallujah is anbar's second largest city, it is also strategically very important and it has been under occupation by isil for over a year now. what people inside the city are
telling us is that the situation is incredibly dire, supplies are simply running out. in the markets there are no fruits, vegetables, or meat. we are hearing there is very little medical supplies, and very little supplies for infants and young babies. and isil are rationing out the only food available, which is wheat to the residents there. the situation got worse in the last two months when the operation against ramadi happened. what the iraqi security forces did was they managed to take a key bridge and then they managed to surround the perimeter of fallujah and they are not letting anything in. aide agencies have told us that this is becoming a desperate situation for the people who live inside that city. they are very concerned that they are running out of food. they do have some basic
supplies, as i say. but there is real concern this could result in starvation. there has been an attack in occupied east jerusalem. >> reporter: a very dramatic and violent scene just outside one of the main gates of the old city. three palestinian men shot dead after 58 edgedly carrying out a gun and knife attack. israeli investigators say they also had an explosive device on them. one israeli policewoman has succumbed to our injuries, another remains in hospital in critical condition as well as an israeli by standinger as well. this is prerhaps one of the mos violent attacks we have seen
since this unrest resulted in october of last year. but this is of course very different. we have three attackers acting together, an israeli investigators are trying to find out whether or not this is what they have described as a loan wolf attack, people operating on their own, or part of a much broader plot, and although we don't have an answer to that, what is clear is this violence we have been seeing for so many months clearly isn't ending. u.s. security forces say a bomb is likely the cause of an explosion on a airline. the pilot said he believes a bomb did cause the blast. one person was killed. these pictures were taken by
somali's deputy ambassador to the united nations who was on the flight. >> of course we saw a hole in the plane and the first thing you worry about is -- you know, can we really make it? it was -- that -- that worrying feeling was there, and -- but it was -- it was really traumatizing. thinking back right now, the first minute or second and then when things happened, you know, i really didn't think that we would make it. but of course after things calmed down, it was a lot easier to be hopeful. the controversial trans-pacific partnership will be signed in new zealand in just a few hours. it's a free trade pact between five north and south american countries and seven asia pacific states. and the idea is to lower or eliminate tariffs on most goods
and services and regulate some trade laws, creating a market similar to the european union. the 12 nations have a combined population of 800 million, and represent about 40% of global gross domestic product. critics say the deal could see jobs in the u.s. move to low-wage nations, and there are concerns that negotiations for the pact have been done in secret. wayne haye reports from auckland. >> reporter: tony's family has been making wine just outside of new zealand's largest city, auckland for 80 years. this batch will be sent to poland. 60% of their wine is exported, and it's a sector of their business they believe they can grow after the introduction of the trans-pacific partnership. >> it's up to the businesses and us as a winery, to go in there and sell ourselves. sell our product. it makes us more competitive.
>> reporter: the deal has been formally negotiated between 12 nations for the past five years. the foundations stretch back to the year 2000 when new zealand and singapore signed a free trade agreement that was later expanded. but it took on a whole new dimension in 2008 when the united states and other countries started talking about widening the agreement. that's when critics say the deal started becoming a deal about big business and control with the u.s. trying to out do china in the region. >> it's a kind of a cold war by proxy. and that's a rel worry, because not only do the corporations who have had special input into this agreement get to be center stage, but there is no balance of the interests. >> reporter: there have been many protests against the tpp. opponents say nations will lose their sovereignty, because they
will need to change laws to accommodate the agreement. but those signing the deal say that is something new. >> every agreement countries enter into, mean they must change their own laws. we have a successful free trade deal with china. we gave up the right to charge duties on many chinese deals when they come into new zealand. >> reporter: opponents say they will use the remaining time to try to stop the tpp. coming up on al jazeera, hundreds of refugees held up on greece's border with macedonia. we'll talk about what the taxi drivers have been doing. and we'll look at how the text sector is helping revive an economy that was on its knees five years ago. ♪
a rare case of the zika virus being transmitted sexually is being reported in the southern united states. infected persons from the city of dallas in texas caught the virus after having sex with an infected person who had returned from venezuela. zika is primarily spread by a mosquito, and has been linked with a huge rise in birth defects in south america. officials are meeting to discuss ways of dealing with zika. the emergency meeting was called by brazil's president, who already declared a state of health emergency in her own country. the u.s. congress is holding its first hearing on water contamination in the town of flint in michigan. lead has also been found in the drinking water of sebring in ohio. the fbi and the environmental
protection agency are investigating the contamination which was first found in 2014 when the water supply was swit switched from detroit to the flint river. >> reporter: ohio's environmental protection agency blames the local manager of the water sanitation system, a man by the name of james baits. they say that he was responsible for notifying local residents. they barred him from working at the plant. they accused him of falsifying records, and launched a criminal investigation as well. but bates has gone on the record against that analysis. he says he is just a scapegoat. and many people here are raising questions about why the environmental protection agency didn't notify local residents. records show that they new at least as early as october that this was a problem here. so that's similar to the same questions being raised in flint
about the epa's role. i did speak to the vailage manager here. he said they deafed a notice in december, but they were under the impression that the issue was being addressed, and it wasn't until late january a when they got a call from the epa that they realized how serious the problem was. they said they are going to have to wait and see how the investigation plays out before they can assign blame. the u.s. president barack obama has arrived at a mosque in the u.s. state of baltimore. the first since he took office. he has got what, less than a year in office now, but he has been there for sometime, and this is the first visit. why now? >> reporter: it is. we asked the white house why haven't you done it yet, and
they said we won't talk about things we haven't done. but the president is becoming increasingly concerned of what is a growing anti-islamic movement. i have talked to people and they say they are getting bullied if they go into a gas station and they are wearing islamic clothing. the president, i think -- this was really sparked by what we're hearing from some republican presidential candidates. donald trump who is -- was number 2 in iowa, he called for a ban on all muslims entering the united states. ted cruz often refers to syrian refugees as those muslim syrian refugees. even jeb bush said that christian refugees should be let in first. he went on to add there are no christian terrorists in the
middle east. so the president isn't going to call them out by name, but he will call those sentiments anti-american, and he thinks this is dangerous. it will only help further promote extremism by isolating the muslim community. >> patty culhane, thank you. pakistan's prime minister is warning people who work for the country's national airline they may go to jail if they continue their protests. staff demonstrating against privatization of the national carrier have stepped up their protests after three employees were killed during scuffles with security forces on tuesday. police used water cannon and tear gas to control the crowds, but deny having opened fire on protesters in karachi. the airline grounded almost all of its international and domestic flights on wednesday. japan has put its military on alert to shoot down a north korean rocket if it threatens
japanese territory. the north korean insist the rocket will simply be carrying a satellite. harry fawcett reports from south korea. >> reporter: when north korea last launched a long-range rocket in december 2012, it said it successfully placed a satellite in orbit. they say the up coming launch is for the same peaceful purpose. but japan's prime minister says that purpose is clearly military. >> translator: this is actually a ballistic missile test, in addition to the nuclear test, north korea testing these missiles is an obvious violation of important security decisions for our country. >> reporter: the announcement confirmed speculation of its west coast launch site. they say the first stage of the rocket will fall to the west of south korea, and the second stage will crash into the sea northeast of the philippines. the flight path notwithstanding, japan says it will shoot down
the rocket if any part of it threatens japanese soil. south korea held a national security council meeting on wednesday, demanding north korea rethink its plan. >> translator: we strongly warn that the north will pay a severe price to the grave threat to peace in the region and around the world. >> reporter: previous prelaunch announcements from north korea has created similar rhetoric in the past. certainly south koreans have grown pretty familiar with this pattern of events. >> translator: south korea cannot deal with this by itself, china and the u.s. don't care that much. so i have great concerns. >> translator: if they launch. they launch. i don't feel it's a threat. >> reporter: south korea is promising severe punishment pushing for a much more stringent set of sanctions this time around, and there has been plenty of pressure on china to
punish north korea. but in north korea is concerned, they are not showing it. he harry fawcett al jazeera, seoul. aid workers are struggling to help thousands of refugees stranded on the border of macedonia. taxicab drives have been blocking the route. at least 80 bus loads of new arrivals were not able to reach the border, and people on board had to spend the night in freezing conditions. greece has said it will speed up the completion of five migrant registration centers after criticism from the european union. the country has been accused of failing to control the flow of arrivals despite receiving financial help. but greece's immigration
minister says all of the camps will be completed this month. >> translator: we will not allow greece to turn into a storage space for humans. greece has already paid the price dearly in the midst of an economic crisis. the greek people showed compassion and helped. military leaders in this france are trying to extend the country's state of emergency. it gives more power to police allowing searches without warrants. the request for a three-month extension still needs to be approved by parliament before coming into force. neave barker reports. >> reporter: the french government is now poised to extend the state of emergency ending weeks of speculation. the french prooichl has been speaking extensively in the last few days, quick to remind the country that it is in a state of war, and unprecedented levels of
security are the only way of keeping the nation safe. the measures give authority to the police to be able to carry out arrests without warrants, and to stop public gatherings and demonstrations too. and the government wants to make it much easier in the future by changing the constitution for states of emergency as well. and also they could see duel nationals stripped of their citizenship if convicted of acts of terrorism. the vast majority of people here in the country are behind an extension of these extraordinary measures. people of ireland are going to vote in general elections on february 26th. this is five years after ireland secured an international financial bailout. now, though, it is the european
union's fastest-growing economy. there are those, though, who are not feeling the benefits. jonah hal went to the capitol. >> reporter: for frankie, the office dog, life is a holiday in the headquarters of home-sharing business air b&b. holiday travel is a big theme. you can hold meeting in beijing, new york, or elsewhere. today's menu comes from gowa. and there's a happy hour pub to wind down in. >> it's the next wave of innovation for all economies globally. and the fact we're attracting these digital new age kind of new internet companies is really key to establishing ireland and our economy as the center for growth. >> reporter: the offices of
google, amazon, facebook and twitter are all switted here in dublin. helping the irish economy grow at three times the e.u. average. the digital economy will employ 120,000 people by 2020. and if you are one of those, the economy is smiling brightly. but there are plenty more for whom it isn't. >> i found out on facebook that my job was gone. >> reporter: they spent more than half a century working at this department store which went bust and closed last year. having lost your job here, what do you think your chances are of finding another one? >> well, you have to be well-educated, and [ inaudible ] proper hours, and proper contracts nowadays.
so you just never know. i am hopeful. >> there is no doubt there is a revival, however, it's for the wealthy and not the working class. it hasn't trickled down, and it won't trickle down. >> reporter: for many the scars of austerity and recession are still fresh. john believes the new economy not unlike the old one is being built on corporate greed. young legal team in russia is making a name for itself. the constitution is supposed to protect the freedom of citizens to receive and distribute information. but an increasing number are facing charges of extremism or treason. from russia's security service the fsb. rory challands has more. >> reporter: this woman waits nervously for her court hearing to start.
she'll hear if her house arrest is to be extended. investigators say her library distributed anti-russia books. and they consider her extremists. >> translator: in 2014 the number of high treason cases increased three times. this explosion happened with the background of the ukrainian conflict. we connect it to the authority's militaristic rhetoric. >> reporter: he leads team 29, a collective of young lawyers and journalists. they complain for freedom of information, and defend those the state considers traitors. this mother of seven was arrested last year for telling ukraine's russian embassy that troops based in her home were being spent to fight. her treason charge was eventually dropped. this is the new online project, it's called if they come for
you. advice for what to do if the fsb comes knocking. this is their headquarters. so if the men from here appear at your front door asking you to accompany them for an informal chat don't go with them. you don't have to. also don't tell them anything. again, you don't have to. warn your family not to sign anything, or give them any information, and if it becomes necessary, get your own lawyer. don't accept a state-appointed one. this woman is a journalist and human rights activist, just the sort of person who might need such advise. >> translator: when these instructions were publiced, everyone got them. they tell you step by step what to do. many mistakes are committed during the first hours. the most horrible thing is when a person says i can explain everything. that's when you get your 12 years. everything you say will be used
against you. >> reporter: they have even found support in unexpected places. this is a former kgb agent and fsb general >> translator: i think these problems come from under qualified staff and conformists reacting to the new situation. they report up the chain too quickly, and they found an enemy and sort it out. it's too easy. let's ban this. let's launch this. it's a vicious practice. >> reporter: the judge extends the house arrest. political cases rarely go in the defendant's favor. despite this, team 29 hopes it is making people aware of their rights, and shining a light on how russia's justice system is sometimes manipulated. a stricken cargo ship has been towed to a spanish port.
the modern express was towed it was listing off of the southwest of france. the crew manage today get off safely. for more aljazeera.com. aljazeera.com. congress takes up the flint water crisis, despite michigan officials refusing to participate. a california gas company faces criminal charges and a state lawsuit for a gas leak that has forced thousands to leave their them tos. a case of sexually transmitted zika surfaces in dallas. the issue with the mosque is we didn't know who was behind it, where it came from. >> backlash over a new