17/09/2016 Reporters - Short Edition


17/09/2016

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brightest. We will be measuring our crane and -- craniums. Next on

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brightest. We will be measuring our crane and -- craniums. Next on BBC

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crane and -- craniums. Next on BBC News,

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crane and -- craniums. Next on BBC News, Reporters.

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Welcome to Reporters.

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I'm Philippa Thomas.

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From here in the BBC Newsroom, we send out correspondents to bring

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you the best stories from across the globe.

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In this week s programme...

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They killed the children, and the women.

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Life under siege in Aleppo.

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As a fragile Syrian ceasefire takes hold, Jeremy Bowen reports

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from inside the shattered remains of the city.

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These buildings were built strongly.

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A lot can be restored.

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You can't bring back all those who died and the country that used

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to be here.

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The scorched earth of so-called Islamic state -

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Orla Guerin joins Iraqi forces on the road to Mosul,

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the last bastion of IS in Iraq.

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They were driven out of this town in just two days,

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but the decisive battle is yet to come - the offensive for Mosul.

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After five years of bloody conflict that's cost more than 300,000 lives

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and seen millions flee their homes, Syria edged a little further

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towards a tentative peace as a fragile ceasefire began this week.

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The seven-day truce, brokered by the United States

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and Russia, began on Monday.

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It's aimed at stopping the fighting between Syrian government forces

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and a wide range of opposition groups.

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One of the worst-hit areas is the city of Aleppo,

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split between the rebel-controlled east and government-held west.

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Jeremy Bowen entered Aleppo just before the truce began and found

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the shattered remains of what was once a thriving

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and beautiful city.

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No-one is taking down the sandbags.

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The war spread to Aleppo in 2012.

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In a divided, destroyed city, after thousands of deaths,

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with hundreds of thousands of lost homes, no wonder

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they are still sceptical a few hours into a ceasefire.

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This is the west side of Aleppo, controlled by the government.

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Many more have died on the east side, but the pain of death

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crosses the battle lines.

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Not much else unites a country that the war has left in fragments.

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A soldier showed me a shell improvised by rebels.

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He said they pack empty cooking gas bottles with explosives,

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weld on a tail and fire them from home-made mortars.

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This is C4?

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So, he is saying that this is C4, which is an explosive.

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LOUD EXPLOSION.

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You hear a lot of that?

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Many, many, many.

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By hundreds, by thousand.

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Hundreds, thousands of explosions?

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Very much.

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It was a small violation of the ceasefire, but this man

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is haunted by years of shelling and by his grandchildren's fears.

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He calls rebels terrorists.

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He lost an eye and his son a leg to a gas bomb attack.

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They murder.

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This is murder.

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They kill us.

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They killed the children, and the women.

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We don't know what happened to Syria.

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Syria...

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One day the war will end.

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Peace will start with a ceasefire.

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This Maronite priest, a Christian, hopes that day has come.

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Rebels destroyed his church.

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Many Syrian Christians support the regime.

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He believes only negotiation will end the war.

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He backs the ceasefire and believes pouring more weapons into

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the Middle East leads to disaster.

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TRANSLATION: From this church, I call on all

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the countries of the world to stop the arms trade.

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The money spent on weapons could feed many people and build

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a civilisation of peace.

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On the east side of Aleppo, which is controlled by rebels,

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the cemeteries are overflowing.

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They have faced much greater firepower than the west.

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Air strikes, including barrel bombs, and more recently the power

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of the Russian air force.

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The ceasefire coincides with Eid al-Adha,

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one of the biggest Muslim holidays of the year and, despite widespread

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doubts that the ceasefire

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would last, parents here, like those near the frontline

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in the west, took a chance.

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TRANSLATION: I took my kids to the swings today.

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It was a risk because I don't believe in the ceasefire at all.

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I don't trust the regime.

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It is always breaking promises.

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But I said the kids should have fun.

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I could not cross into east Aleppo, but this was close to the frontline

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in the old city - a tangle of medieval alleys that used to be

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the greatest souk in the Levant.

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Aleppo's old city was an extraordinary human creation,

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now it is empty and dead.

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The destruction here is tragic, but it doesn't match the loss

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of perhaps 400,000 human lives.

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Now, let's assume the ceasefire lasts.

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First of all for a week, then perhaps for a bit longer.

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The question is what can be built upon it.

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Could there be a political process that inches this country

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away from war and a tiny bit towards peace?

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Or will it be like other attempts at ceasefires,

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just a time when fighting men can rest, rearm, regroup and get

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ready for the next round?

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Jeremy Bowen, BBC News, Aleppo.

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From the war in Syria to the conflict in Iraq now,

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where the so-called Islamic State is also still proving a major

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threat to the authorities.

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Two years ago, IS overran Mosul, Iraq's second largest city,

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and went on to take control of a third of Iraq.

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Since then, IS has lost much of the territory it once held

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and Iraq's Prime Minister has pledged to retake Mosul

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by the end of the year.

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The Iraqi army's most recent victory was taking back the town

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of Qayarra, some 60 kilometres to the south of Mosul.

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From there, Orla Guerin sent this report.

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A parting gift from the so-called Islamic state.

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Oil wells set ablaze, covering their retreat

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from the town of Qayarra.

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Here, the landscape of liberation.

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Defeating IS will mean a lot more scorched earth.

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By the roadside, remnants of their rule.

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The Iraqi troops who drove them from here are still jittery.

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Our journey was suddenly halted when a home-made bomb

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was found up ahead.

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A controlled explosion...this time.

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Clearing this strategic town is a key victory

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in the push towards Mosul.

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Troops are closing in step by step, with help from US

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and British bombing raids.

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And what happened under the dark reign of IS

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is now being uncovered.

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We were given a tour of one of their jails.

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A tiny space the prisoners were kept in.

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Locals said up to four men could be crammed into a cell,

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forced to stand.

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They were even handcuffed to the doors.

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Here, some of their names and the crimes -

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smuggling, and trying to escape.

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We don't know their fate.

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For this tribal commander, the fight here is very personal

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and it is not over yet.

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His village, in the distance, still under IS control.

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TRANSLATION: They blew up my house.

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I can see it with binoculars.

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My mother is there.

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I have not seen her for more than two years.

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It is very painful.

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My brothers are also there, in front of me, and I can't

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reach them, but we hope to retake the village soon.

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Then we get access to a hidden layer built by the extremists

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during their two years in residence.

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Well, here, deep in the hillside, Islamic State carved out a network

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of tunnels and rooms.

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This was a place where they could hide, where they could take cover

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from coalition air strikes.

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It is pretty basic, but we have found some food supplies

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that they left behind in their hurry to escape.

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And they did have some creature comforts.

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There was a electricity connected here.

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Now, they were driven out of this town in just two days,

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but the decisive battle is yet to come, the offensive for Mosul.

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Many have fled even before it begins.

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Makeshift camps in Kurdish territory are already overflowing.

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Here they are free of IS, but still prisoners of memory.

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These young boys saw men hanged.

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And beheaded.

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TRANSLATION: He was escaping so they cut his head off,

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then they threw him into the water.

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They brought another five people, also dead.

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Locals took the bodies and buried them.

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In the coming weeks and months, the desperation here may grow,

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along with the numbers.

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The United Nations is warning that up to 1 million people

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could flee Mosul.

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A fresh catastrophe in this broken country.

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That's all from Reporters for this week.

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From me, Philippa Thomas, goodbye for now.

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A weekly programme of stories filed by BBC reporters from all over the world, ranging from analyses of major global issues to personal reflections and anecdotes.


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