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This is BBC World News Today, with me Tom Donkin.
Iraqi security forces launch an attack to liberate
Mosul from so-called Islamic State militants.
30,000 fighters are involved, attacking it from several positions.
But reaching the city might cost many lives.
The Kurdish forces have been moving forward steadily
We're now at a distance of about 300 metres from the nearest
IS positions, but this is really just the first stage
of what is expected to be a long battle.
Donald Trump claims the media and Hillary Clinton rigging the US
election. More than two years
after being kidnapped, 21 Chibok schoolgirls return home
to their families. And China's reaching
for the moon and possibly Mars, after successfully launching two
astronauts into space Hello and welcome to World News
Today. The offensive to drive Islamic State
militants out of Mosul, their last major stronghold
in Iraq, is continuing. 30,000 Iraqi troops and Kurdish
fighters are taking part in the offensive
on the northern city, Our correspondent, Orla Guerin,
joined Kurdish fighters Here's her report
from the frontline. At first light, the advance
on so-called Islamic State. Zero hour had finally come,
bringing an offensive that could decide the fate
of the extremists We joined Peshmerga fighters
from the autonomous Kurdish region. There name means
"those who face death" and they were ready
to kill and die today. Well, the offensive
is now well underway. The Kurdish forces have been
moving forward steadily and We are now at a distance
of about 300 metres from the nearest IS positions, but this is really
just the first stage of what is expected
to be a long battle. It could take months
to drive the IS fighters First, they have to be flushed out
of the villages up ahead. There were only a handful
of IS remaining, but the Peshmerga Here's what happened
when one attacker approached Before he could reach them,
his vehicle exploded. Two more attackers were stopped
by air strikes from The Peshmerga say they are
fighting a global battle. TRANSLATION: We have
a powerful enemy. They are not just fighting the Kurds
or the Shia, says the colonel. We want to defeat them
for everyone's sake. And this is the territory IS
has been forced to abandon. Any civilians were
already long gone. There was little enough
resistance here. But it will be a very
different story inside Mosul. The Kurds are supposed
to clear a path to the city, But as they drive out IS,
they've been adding to their territory and what they have
captured they intend to keep. Just one of the ways
in which the battle for Mosul Orla Guerin, BBC News,
on the front line. Those living in Mosul are facing
an impossible decision - The UN says it believes
up to 100,000 people may escape to Syria or Turkey,
but it's likely many will be head of UNICEF's field office
in the Iraqi city of Irbil. Thank you very much for joining us.
There are obvious dangers for the Army in Read taking Mosul but what
are these humanitarian challenges, helping people physically and
mentally affected by living under these Islamic State militants for so
long? Thank you for this opportunity. The main concern is the
safety and well-being of the children. And the families that are
fleeing from Mosul. Making sure those children who spent many years
with the Isil under extremely physical conditions, making sure
that when they come out they find a solidity is and services that are
friendly to them, that is the critical priority for now. I guess
that is the main challenge, trying to delve into the mind of these
people, even young people, who have lived for so long under this regime
in Mosul? You have had experience in other conflicts, but anything quite
like this? This is extremely difficult and very, very hard to
equate with other emergencies. It is exceptionally challenging. Children
and communities live under very difficult conditions. We know
children have missed their schools under Isis, many of them were not
immunised, they are traumatised, have seen a lot of distractions, and
it is a condition that none of us wish to be. -- a lot of destruction.
If there is still meet, we understand this could go on for
quite awhile, and some innocent could be used as human shields. Is
that a real concern for you? Definitely anything that harms the
children and the people is a real concern to ours and to all aid
agencies working under these conditions. I just want to ask you
briefly, how hard is it to get the message into Mosul in terms of
letting these people know after what happens when the city is liberated,
if it is? Those specific security details are not within the reach of
the aid agencies, but the message that comes out of aid agencies and
the humanitarian structure is making sure agencies are prepared, put
resources in place, teams in place, and focus more on preparedness and
response of planning when people are out of the danger and brought into
camps and the government is working on that, that is our priority, line
of possibility on weight we should be looking. Thank you very much.
When so-called Islamic State took Mosul, in June 2014,
it became a symbol of its growing power in the region.
Its leader chose the city to announce a caliphate.
As our World Affairs Editor John Simpson reports, re-capturing
Mosul would have huge implications for the region,
Mosul would have huge implications for the region.
Back in June 2014, they seemed unstoppable, driving a far bigger
force of Iraqi soldiers out of Mosul.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, their leader, announced he was setting
up a Muslim caliphate, covering large parts
But their extremism quickly alienated people,
especially given the public brutality of the constant
executions they carried out, often for trivial offences.
How serious is this for so-called Islamic State?
Well, this was the area IS controlled
Now, 21 months later, it's in retreat almost everywhere.
But because Mosul is Sunni dominated, the operation
Kurdish troops make up a sizeable proportion of the attacking force.
The Iraqi army has a Shia majority and there's been a history
of bitter hostility between them and the Sunnis in the region.
The force is being backed by Western air strikes against IS positions.
There are around 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish trips altogether
against between 3,500 and 5,000 IS fighters.
But the defenders have had time to prepare.
They'll have planted of booby-trap bombs.
Britain's involved in the Mosul campaign.
As recently as yesterday, our Typhoons and unmanned aircraft
were striking terrorist positions on the outskirts of Mosul.
And our army has been helping to train the Iraqi and Peshmerga
And our army has been helping to train the Iraqi
and Peshmerga forces who will be doing the fighting.
We're not putting combat troops on the ground into this operation.
The real danger is that the attack on Mosul could result
A million inhabitants may need food and shelter and be
If things go wrong, Mosul could turn into an Iraqi version of Aleppo
and Russia would then claim that its ferocious tactics
EU foreign ministers have strongly criticised Russia
A statement issued after talks in Luxembourg condemned Russia
for causing untold suffering in eastern Aleppo.
Russia and the Syrian government were accused of deliberately
Moscow has just announced it will observe an eight-hour pause
in air strikes on Thursday to allow civilians
Speaking after that meeting, the EU High Representative
for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,
Federica Mogherini, said the top priority was for the Syrian
regime and Russia to stop the bombing of Aleppo.
We say that the European Union firmly believes that there is no
This means that the European Union supports and encourages all efforts
in all formats to stop, not only the bombing on Aleppo,
but also supports all efforts to avoid any further military
escalation and any further direct confrontation on a military level
and also supports all efforts in all formats to agree,
implement and monitor an effective ceasefire.
Now, let's take a look at some of the day's other news.
The first 14 of around 100 child refugees earmarked
for resettlement are on their way to Britain from the makeshift camp
Most of them are thought to be aged around 16.
They've been living at the Jungle without their families.
One person has died and six others have been injured after an explosion
at a factory of the chemical giant BASF in Germany.
The explosion happened at a river harbour during work on a pipeline
route for transporting raw chemicals for shipping.
Six more people are still unaccounted for.
A committee of experts in Austria has decided that the house
in which Adolf Hitler was born - should be torn down -
and a new structure built in its place.
They've recommended that the new building is used
With just 21 days to go until the US election,
Donald Trump has claimed it's all rigged against him.
Writing on Twitter, he's repeated his unsubstantiated claim
that the media is publishing negative stories to help
It's the latest in a series of comments where
he's called into question the fairness of this election.
Katty Kay joins us now from Washington.
Thanks for joining us. Mr Trump says there has been voter fraud, one big
supporter has said the Democrats are cheating, do these claims have any
basis? Very little. The evidence for voter fraud in the United States
over the past few decades is slim, the Washington Post has done an
extensive survey looking at voter fraud between 2000 and 2014 and find
a total of 31 cases, of people impersonating somebody else to take
their vote away from them, effectively, so not much basis for
this. Today we are seeing pushback from constitutional lawyers, as well
as from some Republican party state operatives, the Secretary of State
for a Republican from self, the chief Republican in state, has said
he can assure Mr Trump the voting is not right but will be free and fair.
And it is even some dispute amongst the Donald Trump campaign about what
he means when he says things like fraud is going on on a large scale
already, that the election is absolutely wrecked, including at
polling places, so not clear what he means by that, what kind of Rocky is
talking about. Not even total clarity in his campaign about what
he means. But this message of the rigged election, is that resonating
with his core base? It does very much salt. When you speak to trump
supporters, the field, -- when you speak to Tump supporters, and there
have been sections of United States who have felt the establishment is
stacked against them, somehow it is corrupt and they cannot win
elections fairly, the conservative movement because they see the media
is biased against them, but knew to be seeing the election itself is
rigged, but this establishment anger that some high PR not getting a fair
shake, I remember hearing that in 2000 and eight at seven appeal and
rallies. But to have the candidates themselves -- during that in 2008 at
rallies for Sarah Palin, but surprising to hear that voter fraud
is taking place. Thank you. There have been emotional scenes
in the Nigerian capital, where 21 of the 276 kidnapped Chibok
schoolgirls were reunited The girls were taken by the Islamist
group Boko Haram in April 2014. It is unclear how the release
was negotiated, but an official says talks are underway
to free more girls. After 2.5 years,
they're free at last! Daughters reunited
with their parents. It was a time for celebration,
but also reflection. We are so excited, we never thought
this day would come. These girls were amongst those abducted by
extremist from Boko Haram. One described what she had experienced.
TRANSLATION: I never thought I would see you again.
There was a day when a bomb dropped by jet very close to where I was.
It is only by God's grace we survived.
For 30 days, we were without food, but yet, we are here.
The parents wanted their daughters to get an education but it was a joy
speed. Had cost them their children. -- but it was a choice that they
thought had cost them their children.
TRANSLATION: I said to her, "Are you really alive?"
And she replied, "Yes, I am." We both burst into tears.
What did she tell you about her time in captivity?
They were told their parents were no longer alive,
They never imagined that they would see us again.
But officials seek negotiations are continuing, but dozens of students
reportedly don't want to come home after marrying fighters.
For now, these girls are free to rejoice.
But recovering will not be easy with so many of their schoolmates still
being held. The British Government says it had
nothing to do with a decision to withdraw UK banking services
from Russian-state broadcaster RT. The broadcaster's editor in chief
said that NatWest's decision was final. Micron said they are
contacting the company to discuss further. -- NatWest said.
Oksana Boyko is an RT presenter based in Moscow, and joins me now.
Thank you for joining us, do you have any more detail about this? We
were not expecting it at all. I think it would be exciting to see
the bank perhaps reconsider or at least look into the matter, because
the letter sent to ours states that the decision is final, they are not
in the decision to even the go see it, and that was after more than ten
years of having a pretty good relationship with the bank. We were
satisfied with services and thought we were good clients. But if they
are willing to look into the matter, all the better, but we are looking
into alternative options, because as I said, that came pretty unexpected.
You have been in the UK, but have run into difficulty, some claiming a
lack of impartiality, do you think that is the reason for the closing
of this banking system for you? The British government says it is not
involved, do you also accept that? Well... I think it is yet to be
seen. Again the drop nature of that statement -- abrupt nature of that
statement raised suspicions, especially given the bank, Royal
Bank of Scotland, is owned by the government, 73% of shares owned by
the government, why we suspected some government length. You are
right that we have been under pressure in the UK, we don't think
that is because of the lack of impartiality, in fact, we don't
think that any broadcaster present in the UK is impartial for that
matter, but we do believe that we are bringing a valuable alternative
position to the British audience and we hope to continue doing so,
especially given for example the BBC has a very sprawling operation in
Moscow, hiding a lot of people now to bring Russian language news to
the Russian audience there, hiding a lot of producers and reporters,
essentially what we have been doing in the UK -- hiring. We hope to
continue. Without banking, is it possible to continue long-term? I
think it is possible if you bring the international News, you can do
that fire the internet, but as we said, we would like to stay in the
UK and produced local content. I think that is, to be honest, that is
the bone of contention here, because, as you noted, not everybody
has been happy with the kind of news we bring to the British audience, it
is often contradicting not only the line that the British government
takes, but also the editorial lines of many British broadcaster. Thank
you for joining us, we will have to leave it there. That is a presenter
with RT. The country is celebrating
after successfully sending two astronauts to its orbiting space lab
called Heavenly Palace 2. They'll be there for the next
33 days carrying out research. Beijing invited a handful of foreign
journalists to observe the launch. Amongst them was our China
Correspondent Stephen McDonell. Seeing this Chinese rocket take-off
was every bit as powerful This country has great ambitions,
when it comes to the stars. And there is a feeling here
that nothing can stop them. It's not something a journalist
is normally allowed It's not often you get to go
to a press conference with astronauts and I have to say
it's rather exciting. But if I swing around here,
you can see this is the bubble Now, the reason they're behind glass
is they do not want to get sick. I suppose, if you are blasting off
to spend a month living on the space station,
you wouldn't want to be TRANSLATION: Being an astronaut
is my dream and my duty. Although the job is full
of challenges and risks, In two days' time, Jinh Haipeng
and Chen Dong will be on board They said they couldn't wait
to look back down on the planet in the Gobi Desert,
north-western China. Now, Sir David Attenborough has
a new accolade to add to the many he's notched up over a decades-long
career in which he's brought the natural world
into our living rooms. He was guest of honour today
at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead in the North
of England, where construction has begun on a research
ship named after the But as Victoria Gill reports,
the ship could have ended up Just reaching the
Antarctic is tough. But at a time of rapid
environmental change, So, in a Birkenhead shipyard,
thousands of miles from the icy ocean, a polar research vessel
is under construction. News of this ?200 million UK
investment in polar science was almost eclipsed by the
online vote to name the ship with the public overwhelmingly
opting for the name Despite that, the vessel
has been named Sir David Attenborough,
in honour of Britain's most If you have any knowledge
of Antarctic exploration, or Arctic exploration, or the Navy,
you can think of some very, very distinguished names
that have been carried by ships. That my name should be among them
now is a very humbling realisation. Sir David took part in a ceremony
today to begin the ship's construction winching a huge section
of its keel into place. But Boaty McBoatface
lives on - this is Boaty. It's a robotic submersible that
will be deployed from the deck of the vessel, carrying out
on the water investigations in places that would
otherwise be inaccessible With the first polar
mission scheduled for 2019, Sir David and Boaty will set
out to explore Earth's A great honour for Sir David. The
main headline, the offensive to drive Islamic State forces out of
Mosul has begun. Kurdish fighters have spearheaded the operation
clearing the way Iraqi troops. Don't forgot, you can get in touch
with me on Twitter. That is all for now. Stick around
The week has certainly started on a marked sunshine and showers
theme, quite breezy in places as well, I'm sure
No great surprise when you see the chart, because we have a number