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This is BBC World News Today.
Our top stories:
A suspected chemical
attack in Syria.
Activists say these pictures are
from a hospital in Eastern Ghouta,
an area that's been under intense
attack for a week.
The political crisis in
the Democratic Republic of Congo -
security forces open fire on a rally
calling for President Kabila to go.
China's Xi Jinping could remain as
president for many years, and
proposed constitutional changes.
A team from Poland trying to be
the first to conquer the world's
second-highest peak in winter -
so why did one of the climbers
strike out his own?
Hello and welcome
to World News Today.
There are reports from Syria
of a chemical attack
in Eastern Ghouta, an enclave
on the outskirts of Damascus that
has been under intense bombardment
from the Syrian regime
for a week now.
The region is the last major
rebel-held area near the capital,
and the Assad regime is now
determined to take it back.
These are pictures we've
just received of that
suspected chemical attack.
The reports come a day
after the United Nations Security
Council demanded a Syrian
ceasefire "without delay".
But clashes between Syrian forces
and the rebels have continued,
as have the airstrikes.
Russia has accused the rebels of
attacking Syrian government forces.
Caroline Hawley reports.
In Eastern Ghouta today,
a measure of calm after a week-long
storm of airstrikes.
In small numbers, people ventured
out from underground shelters
to assess the damage.
But there were reports of airstrikes
continuing in some parts
of the rebel-held enclave.
Once again, children
were among the dead.
Today is the first day
of the ceasefire resolution.
Still there is warplanes
in the atmosphere, still shelling,
but it is less bad than before.
The vote last night for a month-long
ceasefire didn't specify exactly
when it would start or how it
would be implemented,
and there's another problem.
In Eastern Ghouta, it's a disparate
group of rebels fighting the regime,
including some extremist elements
that have been linked
to Al-Qaeda, and the ceasefire
doesn't cover them.
Government forces are massed around
the edge of the enclave,
with reports of clashes
as they try and advance.
Tonight, we spoke to the most
powerful group on the ground,
Jaysh Al Islam, which claims to have
killed and kidnapped dozens
of government troops today.
When the regime is not
abiding by the UN resolution,
I cannot stand still and watch
and not defend myself
and our families in Ghouta.
In one hospital in Eastern Ghouta,
victims, activists say,
of a suspected chemical attack,
suffering symptoms of a possible use
of chlorine gas.
If there's one thing all sides agree
on it's that the conflict,
and the agony of Syrian civilians,
is very far from over.
Dr Mohamad Katoub is
the advocacy manager
from the Syrian American Medical
He is originally from Ghouta
but joins us live from Turkey.
What more do you know about this
Today we received information from
our hospital in Eastern Ghouta, one
of our hospital is there, that
received 16 patients with symptoms
indicating chlorine. The doctors who
treated the patients are
well-qualified and they experienced
chemical victims before, so they
know what they are talking about. We
don't have any way to identify the
agents other than the symptoms they
described. All the patients were
treated, they came in with moderate
symptoms, so we have only one death
between the 16. It's a child, and we
are not sure if the death is because
of the chemical attack or because of
other injuries, because it seems
that the missile which was loaded
with the chemical agent also caused
some destruction in the building
where this family lived.
If it was
chlorine, what with these people
have experienced and felt during the
attack and afterwards?
mainly. Chlorine causes respiratory
problems. This is the main issue.
While other chemical or legends --
chemical agents cause other
symptoms. This is how we verify it,
in addition to the treatment we
provide to the patient. Actually,
six children from those 16 don't
know what's happening to them, why
they are in the hospital. The
doctors were very frustrated, that's
not enough to explain what they
feel, because they feel like this is
only an alarm and it will bring more
chemical attacks, because no one is
doing anything to stop them. This is
attack number four in 2018, and
number seven in Syria which is using
chemical agents against civilians.
This is a chronic issue. Chemical
weapons have been used since 2012 to
now. Almost 200 chemical attacks,
exactly 197, that have been reported
through our medical staff, and we
are just hearing about deadlines and
stopping this and the UN Security
Council, but this didn't happen,
especially in this area, which has
been under siege for five years now.
There is a shortage of medicine, no
capacity to face such attacks, no
protection gear even for some of the
rescue team, which pulled the people
from the attack area. Even they were
contaminated. Thank God that until
now, only one death since the
beginning of the year by chemical
weapons. But we expect more and more
as there is no action.
you joining us,-ism Mohamad Katoub.
Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news.
Nigeria's government has
deployed its air force to help
in the search for a group
of schoolgirls missing
since an attack by Islamist
militants on a school
in the north-east of the country.
The information ministry says 110
girls remain unaccounted for.
The National Rifle Association
in the United States has stressed
that it's opposed to any gun ban,
appearing to go against
President Trump's recent comments
that some gun controls
should be considered.
Following the deadly
shooting in a Florida
school earlier this month,
Mr Trump proposed raising
the age limit for buying
certain types of guns,
and banning modifications that
enable semi-automatic rifles
to shoot more rounds per minute.
Police in Leicester have declared
a "major incident" after reports
of an explosion this evening.
Leicestershire Fire Service said
they were sending six fire engines
to the scene and were treating
the incident as a search
and rescue operation.
There are no reports
of any casualties.
The cause of the explosion
is not known.
One person has been killed
and several others injured
in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
as people have taken
to the streets to protest
against President Joseph Kabila.
Mr Kabila has stayed
in power despite his
mandate expiring in 2016.
Demonstrators defied a ban in many
parts of the country
to protest after Sunday mass,
and were met with live
bullets and tear gas.
Clouds of toxic gas and a hail of
bullets. These protesters defied a
ban on demonstrations, taking to the
streets after Sunday mass. They say
president Kabila should have down --
stood down in 2016.
We are determined
because we are suffering. We will
march even if the police stop us,
even they have to understand that
Kabila's mandate is finished, he
Reports say police quickly
turned to using live ammunition to
try and end the protests. The
violence has claimed the life of at
least one person. The campaign group
human rights watch has identified
him as this 36-year-old, a
university lecturer turned activist.
A relative said he was shot outside
a church in the capital, Kinshasa.
This Facebook page has been set up
in his memory. The police done I bet
anybody has been killed in the
protests. -- the police deny.
goal was to have no threat because
we are here to provide security for
our population, our compatriots. I
told the police men not to shoot at
missed a deadline to hold national
elections last year and a new vote
is slated for December, but
officials are already hinting that
what they called financial and
logistical issues might get in the
way. With opposition parties
crippled by infighting and many of
their leaders forced into exile, the
Catholic Church has become the main
force opposing Kabila's rule.
As long as we don't see
goodwill and good faith from our
leaders, we will not stop
demonstrating. Maybe we will be able
to change the way we do it, but
we'll stick with it.
opponents are now focusing on
stopping him from changing the
constitution in his favour. He wants
to remove the presidential term
limit altogether, meaning that he
could stay on legitimately. If he
succeeds, there could be many more
days like this one.
The Chinese Communist Party has
announced plans that could allow
President Xi Jinping
to extend his role indefinitely.
Under the current constitution,
he can only stay as President
for two terms, until 2022.
The party may now change that rule.
Le'ts speak now to an author
and expert on China, Ann Lee.
She joins me from New York.
What do you think this is about? Do
you think it is about one man and
his personality wanting to
consolidate power, or is it more
about the people at the top of the
party saying that collective power
doesn't work when you want to drive
Well, it's a little
difficult to tell. What is certain
is that this change will give him
unprecedented power, but the real
question is is it going to be used
for positive impact or selfish ends?
And so what we do know is that China
right now is at a very critical
period, transitioning into an
innovation economy, and emerging as
a world power on the international
stage. It's a tricky situation, and
China knows that they need to have a
very strong leadership in order to
steer this ship through these very
uncertain, challenging, turbulent
waters. And so, it's very possible
that they feel that they need to
rely on someone that they know and
who has been trusted by a number of
folks, and they will be hoping Xi
Jinping can stay the course and
provide that leadership. They
probably worried that having
leadership changes during critical
periods might be inviting too
much... On the other hand, having
too much power concentrated in one
person can also bring corruption.
And this could lead to dangerous
outcomes, as we've seen with
Chairman Mao which led to
unnecessary deaths of civilians
during his rule. And so there could
be negative outcomes if Xi Jinping
does not use his power in a
benevolent and positive way. I think
that we need to just observe and see
what happens, whether this is a
calculated move by the Communist
leaders. They don't know in the end
what Xi Jinping will turn out to be
in the years to come, and nobody
Thank you very much.
Stay with us. Plenty more still to
come, including all of the sport,
with the latest from the English
Premier League, including Manchester
United's victory over Chelsea at Old
As revolutions go, this had its fair
share of bullets. A climax in the
night outside the gates. The label
itself symbolising one of the
crudest regimes in modern Asia.
world's first clone has been
produced of adult mammal. Scientists
produced a sheep called Dolly. The
citizens trying to come to grips
with their new freedom. Although
there is joy and relief, scowling is
everywhere. Not for 20 years have
locusts been seen in such numbers
here, some swarms have been ten
miles long. This is the last time
the public will see this Pope. Soon,
for the sake of credibility and
authority of the next one, Benedict
XVI will be hidden from the world
for the rest of his life.
This is BBC World News Today.
The latest headlines
There are reports of a chemical
attack in Syria. Activists say these
pictures are from a hospital in
Eastern Ghouta, an area that's been
under intense bombardment for a
week. Security forces in the
Democratic Republic of Congo opened
fire on a rally calling for
President Kabila to go.
The UK's opposition party would keep
the UK in a customs union
with the EU after the country leaves
the bloc, its party's Brexit
spokesman has confirmed.
Labour's Kier Starmer told the BBC
that the arrangement would be
best for the economy,
but still respect
the referendum result.
The policy shift marks a clear
difference with the UK
Prime Minister, who is committed
to leaving both the EU's customs
arrangement and the single market.
With me is BBC political
correspondent Ben Wright.
In the UK, the Labour Party is in
opposition, but they could have an
influence on government policy,
That's right, and the
reason is because Theresa May's
Conservative Party doesn't have an
overall majority in the House of
Commons. Over the next year, really,
leading up to the date of Brexit,
there will be many opportunities for
Members of Parliament to vote on the
Brexit process so it doesn't take
many, a handful, even, of Tory MPs,
Conservative MPs, to vote with the
Labour Party to defeat the
government, and the backdrop to the
whole of Brexit over the next year
or so. Labour's policy position on
the customs union is one of the most
significant moves we've seen for
months. Bcentral planks of the
government Brexit strategy is to
take Britain out of the central
market, but also the customs union,
sharing tariff free trade across the
EU. The Labour position has been
evolving slowly over the last few
months and they confirmed that, were
they to be in power, they would want
Britain to create a new customs
union with the European Union to
maintain tariff free trade as much
as possible. The reason this is
dangerous for the government is that
there is highly likely to be a vote
in the house of parliament at some
point in the next weeks or months
that would allow Tory MPs who are
critical of their own government's
policy to join forces with the
Labour Party and potentially inflict
a defeat on the government and
potentially change the government's
preferred option on the customs
union, which changes the course of
Brexit. That is why these policy
choices that Labour is making are
A Polish expedition attempting
to become the first to conquer
the world's second-highest peak,
K2, in winter has confirmed that one
of its climbers appears to have
launched an unauthorised solo
attempt to reach the summit.
Denis Urubko struck out alone,
reportedly refusing to discuss his
plans with base camp on the radio.
We can now speak to the expedition
spokesperson, Michal Leksinski.
He's in Warsaw.
Just explain to me, why is it so bad
for somebody to strike out on their
own? You are all competitive
climbers, aren't you?
Well, I must
PROBLEMS WITH SOUND.
Without any discussion and without
any consultation to make his
attempt. It's an international
expedition, 13 people have worked so
far for two months to establish
camps to fix the roads on the route
to the summit of K2, and without any
consultations Dennis attempted, or
is attempting for the summit push,
so this changed a bit the tactics,
because of the fact that he went
solo without any connectivity and
without any radio with himself. We
have to prepare other teams, which
are now currently at an altitude of
6200 metres in a camp, and 6700
metres in a camp also, they have to
be prepared for supporting Denis
Urubko, his summit attempt.
Currently, he's probably at altitude
of 7200 metres in camp three, from
where tomorrow probably he'll go
further and higher for the summit,
probably, we don't know his plans,
but maybe he'll try and do it in one
day, so he will try and go from 7200
metres to the summit.
Am I right in
thinking that you are very politely
trying to say he is being selfish,
and he is being dangerous?
this decision probably, we can't
say, but it is dangerous, because
when you go solo without
PROBLEMS WITH SOUND.
Without any other members of the
team... It creates a dangerous
environment, especially all K2,
which is a very dangerous mountain,
however we will be assuming that
Dennis, being very known and
experienced climber, he will know
whether the weather will allow him
to go for the summit, and he will
judge and assess the situation in
the proper way, so he will not
create any dangerous environment,
both for him and also for the team
OK, and no doubt some words
when he gets back down. Thank you
for joining us.
Now all the sport.
Manchester City have won their first
silverware under manager
Pep Guardiola with a comprehensive
3-0 win over Arsenal
in the League Cup final at Wembley.
It was a dominant performance
from City, who took the lead
through Sergio Aguero in the first
half - his 199th goal for City
in all competitions.
City made sure of the trophy
with two quick strikes in the second
half, the first from Vincent
And then another from David Silva,
as Arsenal looked in danger
of being overrun, but no
further goals followed.
Arsene Wenger's search
for a League Cup win goes on,
while Guardiola lifted what he hopes
will be the first of three
trophies this year.
City manager Pep Guardiola may draw
further attention from the FA
after he wore his trademark yellow
ribbon, which he displays in support
of imprisoned politicians
in his native Catalonia,
despite facing a charge from English
football's governing body
for "wearing a political message".
In the Premier League,
Jose Mourinho's Manchester United
came from a goal down to beat
Antonio Conte's Chelsea
2-1 at Old Trafford.
The win keeps United in second
place behind runaway
leaders Manchester City.
After going behind to a Willian
goal, Romelu Lukaku equalised
for the home side five minutes
before the half-time interval.
The winner came from Jesse Lingard
15 minutes from the end,
as Chelsea drop to 5th place.
Earlier, Tottenham beat
Crystal Palace 1-0 -
the only goal from Harry Kane
in the 88th minute.
That win stretches Spurs' unbeaten
record into 15 games
in all competitions,
and also takes them fourth
after Chelsea's loss
at Manchester United.
In Spain, Diego Costa
and Antoine Griezmann goals
for Atletico Madrid see them lead
Sevilla 2-0, heading towards the end
of their Primera Division match.
The win would take them
to within seven points
of leaders Barcelona
while Sevilla would drop
a place to 6th with a loss.
Elsewhere Villarreal held
on to a 1-0 win over Getafe ending
a five-match winless streak
and moving to fifth place.
Athletic Bilbao beat bottom side
Malaga while Valencia were 2-1
winners over Real Sociedad.
Now to golf, and Eddie Pepperell
edged out fellow Englishman Oliver
Fisher by one shot to secure
the Qatar Masters.
It was his first title
on the European Tour
athough he had come close before.
He lost a play-off at
the Irish Open in 2015.
Here, he finished on 18 under par
overall and faced a nervous wait
but Fisher couldn't catch him.
Meanwhile, Jessica Korda held on to
win the LPGA event in Thailand.
The American led by four shots
heading into the final round and it
stayed that way as she won her first
title since 2015 in what was also
her first appearance this season
after recovering from jaw surgery.
At one point, I was in the trees on
nine, and I hit this punch out into
the bunker, and I felt like Tiger
Woods! All of these crowds coming in
behind me. I was like, this is
really cool. It's always really fun
playing in front of crowds like
this. I really enjoyed it.
Movistar cyclist Alejandro Valverde
has won the Abu Dhabi Tour
after claiming Sunday's final stage.
The Spaniard went head-to-head
with Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez
after the pair broke clear
with four kilometres remaining.
It was Valverde -
who was lying in eighth place
before the final day -
who came out on top,
to win the stage and the overall
race, finishing 17 seconds ahead
of Team Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman.
The Winter Olympics came to an end,
and our dreams of curling or
bobsleigh gold came to an end for
another four years.
And that's all the sport for now.
A reminder of the developing story
we are following, and reports coming
in to us of a suspected chemical
attack in Eastern Ghouta. This is
coming from the Syrian American
medical society, telling the BBC
that one of its hospitals has been
receiving patient Lee suffering from
symptoms indicating a chemical
attack, possibly chlorine.
Meanwhile, Russia has criticised
rebels, saying they are still
breaking the ceasefire.