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Hello and welcome
to World News Today.
Syrian government forces have
advanced further in the rebel-held
enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
The territory's city of Douma
is reportedly surrounded.
As bombardments continue,
the casualties keep rising -
at least 1,000 civilians have now
been killed since the regime
began its offensive there
nearly three weeks ago -
that death toll
includes 200 children.
Our Arab affairs editor,
Sebastian Usher has more.
Syrian tanks have continued to
spearhead the army's remorseless
advance into Eastern Goutah, which
has gathered further momentum. A
A military commander said
that rebel fighters,
all of whom the government sees
as terrorists, were on the run.
TRANSLATION: After Syrian army
forces took control of this village,
we are currently on our way
to another place and our advance
is going towards the town.
We have noticed the escape
of several members of
the terrorist groups
Several sources say the troops have
moved in even deeper and have
managed to cut off the two biggest
towns in the region,
The heavy bombardment of Douma
by land and air has continued.
Residents assay casualties
are mounting again in a town
where just 24 hours ago a convoy
of aid was finally being delivered.
Syrian state media has shown troops
inside the small town of Misraba
in the centre of Eastern Goutah.
The biggest rebel group denies
that it has fallen and says it has
beaten back army units,
but if Misraba is in government
hands, then the enclave in effect
will be divided in half,
following a tried and tested pattern
which pro-government forces have
used across Syria to force
the surrender of verbal holdouts.
Both of the main rebel forces have
vowed to continue fighting,
but the battle may have reached
a turning point.
The US Department of Justice has
taken the first step towards banning
bump stocks, which allow rivals to
fly with the speed of machine guns.
Bump stocks were used last year by a
gunman in Las Vegas to kill 58
people. The definition of machine
guns, which are already banned, will
be changed to include the device,
effectively banning them from sale,
too. Joining me now from Washington
DC is our correspondent Chris
Buckler. Chris, thank you for
chatting with us. Would banning bump
stocks really help to improve gun
safety in the US?
Well, I think it
is one step towards trying to
improve gun safety. Certainly new
restrictions which are a lot of
campaigners have been asking for and
indeed which President Trump himself
has talked about. These are devices
which essentially modify
semiautomatic weapons and turn them
into automatic machine guns.
Basically they increase the speed at
which bullets can be fired. And it
was that attack in Las Vegas in
October in which 58 people were
killed and hundreds were injured
that really brought it to the four,
because these devices were used on
semiautomatic rifles then to use
them effectively as machine guns.
Now, it is important to say that
this is just the first step in a
lengthy process. President Trump has
been talking about, it is now clear
that the Department of Justice wants
to do it. But the proposal has to go
through a number of hoops before it
is finally made law. And there is
the chance of a legal challenge. But
there is a sense that campaigners
are being heard at least with the
message that gun restrictions, new
laws to try to tighten legislation,
is something they want to. What is
interesting, though, is that this is
in itself not new legislation. This
is really about redefining existing
legislation and making bump stocks
one of the things that is defined as
a machine gun, and that is how it
will be tightened. But effectively
it makes them illegal for sale.
you think this will be enough to
satisfy campaigners, to relieve the
pressure on the Trump administration
to do more?
Oh, absolutely not. This
is just one step and if you look at
all of what the campaigners want,
then really you have to go much,
much further to satisfy them. Here
in Washington, we are preparing
before the end of the month to have
a huge march here in which students,
particularly are organising people
to come and campaign, to ask the
politicians to listen. And we are
seeing this battle taking place
between campaigners and the gun
lobby, including the National Rifle
Association. As you saw this week in
Florida, we have new legislation
that has been signed into law by the
governor there, Rick Scott. And one
of those restrictions being put in
place is to raise the age at which
someone can buy a gun from 18 to 21.
The NRA is challenging that which
gives you a sense of how he did this
debate is. But campaigners will not
be satisfied and they say that they
don't just want sympathy, they want
It is a debate which is
going to continue. Sparkler, thank
you. -- Chris Buckler.
More than 200 witnesses have
been identified in a UK
investigation into the poisoning
of a Russian ex-spy.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd
said the "serious, substantial
investigation" was painstaking
but progressing quickly.
Our home affairs correspondent
Dominic Casciani has more.
This was the scene at Salisbury
ambulance station this evening as
chemical warfare specialists began
the latest phase of this evolving
operation. More than 180 military
personnel are now involved in an
operation which already includes
more than 250 detectives.
This is the
second major military operation
in Salisbury in the last 24 hours.
in the last 24 hours.
Last night we saw them taking away
a police car from the hospital.
Today is now taking away ambulances
which were potentially
contaminated last Sunday.
Everybody is watching and waiting
to see when this emergency will end
and the nation is watching
and waiting to find out
who is behind this crime.
Today was the second meeting
in a week of the emergency committee
Cobra to see how far
the police have got.
This investigation is focused
on making sure that we keep
people safe as a priority,
that's what the meeting was about.
And also making sure
that we collect all the evidence,
so when it comes to attribution,
we will be absolutely clear
where it should lead.
The pizza restaurant where the two
dined is now behind screens.
200 witnesses have so
far been identified.
And 240 pieces of evidence.
Today the main cemetery in the city
was also closed to the public
as officers examined the graves
of Mr Skripal's wife and son.
Today there was no change in his
condition or that of his daughter -
still critical and still
in intensive care.
Wiltshire police released
a statement on behalf
of the third victim,
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
He said he and his family are hugely
grateful for all the messages
of support from the public
and colleagues from
the police family.
He was part of a group of officers
and other emergency service
colleagues who dealt
with the incident and he does not
consider himself a hero.
He was merely doing his job, a job
he loves and is immensely proud of.
Salisbury is a proud city,
trying to get on with normal life.
Shoppers in the market and officials
drawing up a plan to help businesses
affected by the police operation.
More barriers were going up tonight
at the park bench where it all began
and it might be weeks yet before
this is all over. Steve Bannon has
told a conference of the far right
National Front movement in France
that it is part of a global movement
to. He took aim at what he called
the globalised elite and the
mainstream media. He spoke of a
growing wave of populism across
You saw in Italy that the
5-star movement and the league don't
agree on everything, and in fact the
5-star movement is I would argue a
centreleft movement. But they came
together to vote against the
permanent political class in Rome
and in Brussels. Marine Le Pen laid
it out. It is not about left versus
right. That's too simplistic, and
it's the way the opposition party
media has always kept us out of
power. I did not come here as a
teacher, I came to Europe as an
observer and to learn. And what I've
learned is, you are part of a
worldwide movement that is bigger
than France, bigger than Italy,
bigger than Hungary, bigger than all
Stay with us on BBC
World News, still to come...
It's known as a jewel
of gothic architecture -
but for how much longer?
We take a look around Notre-Dame
cathedral in Paris -
some of which is in danger
of falling apart.
This, the worst terrorist atrocity
on modern European soil in modern
times. In less than 24 hours the
Soviet Union lost an elderly Sikh
leader and replaced him with a
dynamic figure 20 years his junior.
We heard these gunshots and then he
came out and started firing and we
were all petrified.
James Hall Ray,
41, sentenced to 99 years, travelled
to Nashville State prison in a
What does it feel like to
be married at last?
It feels fine
Is it going to change
I don't know, really,
I've never been married
This is BBC World News Today.
The latest headlines.
reports from Syria suggest that
government forces have split the
rebel-held enclave of Eastern
The Sri Lankan government
says it will pay for all the damage
caused by days of violent and he was
in protests in the city of own. That
includes buildings gutted by fire
and businesses that were ransacked
in four days of riots. Several
people were also killed in a wave of
attacks on Muslims by Buddhist
hardliners. Jill McGillvary has the
latest. This was the moment the
Prime Minister saw the devastation
for himself if burnt out shops,
smashed windows and badly damaged
mosques. The violence here is a
reminder that tensions between
Buddhist and Muslim immunities run
deep. Many businesses are still
closed and with mosques damaged,
Friday prayers were in the open air
under army protection. The military
are out in force now, on the
surface, all is calm. But many
Muslims say they still feel unsafe
and flee to the jungle to hide at
night. The government now promises
to pay for the damage. Local
officials have been told to start
the clean-up at once. And in another
sign of life starting to return to
normal, the curfew was lifted on
Saturday. But a social media ban is
still in place. At the height of the
violence, a state of emergency was
declared and thousands of troops
were sent onto the streets. Buddhism
mobs mostly from, her community
attacked a Muslim owned properties,
reacting to reports that a Buddhist
man had been killed by a group of
Muslims. This monk risks to his life
to protect mosques in his area from
TRANSLATION: There were four
attempted attacks, we were able to
successfully stop them and we
quickly got the police to come and
another instance we ran towards the
attackers and sent them away. There
are 14 mosques in this area and we
did not allow anything to happen to
them. We found several petrol bombs,
by well-briefed failed attacks with
Mohamed's home was one
TRANSLATION: They've looted
our house, my sister only got
married recently. They have taken
all her jewellery. My small brother
could take the money to buy a watch
and they have even taken that. See
how they have torn our two-month-old
child's toy. I think more than
racism their intention was to
Police say they have
arrested nearly 150 people. Sri
Lanka's president has launched an
independent investigation into what
happened, a signal from the
government that it will restore
justice here. You're watching BBC
World News today. Jessica has the
sports. Starting with football,
Marcus Rashford scored twice as
Manchester United held on to beat
Liverpool and strengthened their
grip on second place in the Premier
League. It means Jose Mourinho's
side narrowed the gap on Manchester
City to 13 points. And they are now
five points clear of Liverpool.
don't remember a dangerous situation
to our goal. It was controlled by
them having the ball, controlled by
us not having the Boulter so, I
think we deserve the victory but of
course, a big match, I don't know
because I don't have binoculars, but
my feeling is that the referee was
also very good. And I think a big
game, where nobody goes home
disappointed with the emotion, the
quality, the level and the
At the London Stadium
West Ham lost to Birmingham by 3-0.
The game was marred
by ugly scenes during the
second-half, when a number of West
Ham fans took to the pitch to
protest against the owners. The FA
and the Premier League have
condemned the disturbances and say
they will be seeking observations
from West Ham and the club has
launched an inquiry. West Ham are
three points above the relegation
West Ham are three points
above the relegation zone.
We want the supporters behind
us and since I've been
here they've been really good.
But you can't cross the line
had come on the pitch.
The players had gone one down
and we want them to keep their focus
and overall a lot of them did
a really good job.
Not football-wise at times
in the second half but certainly
in the way they behaved.
Confirmation of those results,
Newcastle United have gone five
points clear of the relegation zone
after beating Southampton. West Brom
look to be heading towards the
Championship. They were thrashed at
home to Leicester City. In the late
game, Chelsea beat Crystal Palace.
In Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo scored
twice for Real Madrid and they are
now four points behind Atletico
Madrid in third after winning their
game. Barcelona are currently
leading 2-0. Ireland have won the
Six Nations with one round remaining
after a bonus point victory over
Scotland in Dublin. Two tries from
Jacob Stockdale and further scores
by Conor Murray and Sean Cronin gave
the Irish deserved victory. England
were beaten by France in the other
game. It handed Ireland the trophy.
There was a lot of pressure, a lot
of people talking about it and we
knew how good a Team Scotland were,
so there are a lot of good things in
there. To score a bonus point win in
the Six Nations is a big defeat. Is
always there are things we can do
better, but ultimately, we're really
happy to get a big win.
a 58 ball century from Jonny
Bairstow helped England to a seven
wicket victory in the deciding
one-day international against New
Zealand in Christ Church. England
bowled New Zealand out for 223.
Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid got
three wickets each. A partnership of
84 between Colin de Grandhomme and
Mitchell Santner helped the Kiwis
get a respectable target. But
Bairstow helped tourists win the
series 3-2, winning this one with
more than 17 overs remaining.
outstanding. It really was. We
played extremely well in the
previous game. Today, different
circumstances, different pitch, some
results. Just probably about 50
balls less. It is funny the
conversations we have in the
changing room is about who has got
the quickest hundred A.D. Just is
the first and now Jonny Bairstow has
the fourth quickest. To have four
guys who can go and do that is a
huge compliments to our batting
That is to sport for now.
Let's go back to our top stories
Deeney advance of the Syrian regime
forces on the rebel enclave of
Eastern Goutah. To talk more about
it I am now joined by somebody from
Brussels, the Middle East programme
director at Crisis Group. Thank you
rejoining us. Let's get back to
basics - can you explain why Eastern
Ghouta is such a key battle ground?
Well, it is because the area is a
suburb of Damascus, is century. And
it has been rebel-held from pretty
much the beginning of the Syrian
uprising against the regime. And
since the regime has been able to
recover quite a bit of territory
elsewhere in the country, and since
the rebels have been shelling
downtown Damascus from their vantage
point in the suburb, the regime
clearly has decided now to retake
that area now that it has freed up
its troops in other parts of the
So, we have 1000 civilians
dead in the past few weeks,
including 200 children - what will
happen now to the civilians who are
still left in the router and also
the rebels who are still there?
is a good question. We don't know.
The pressure is clearly tremendous.
There is a United Nations Security
Council resolution calling for a
nationwide ceasefire, including
Eastern Goutah. And yet we see that
the conflict continues there. At
tremendous cost to the local
population. It's not clear what
their way out is. Technically
Eastern Goutah, apart from the fact
that supposedly there is a
nationwide ceasefire, it is also a
de-escalation zone, which means that
no fighting should be taking place
between the regime and the rebels
Raqqa groups such as Al-Qaeda and
Islamic State are excluded from that
but the presence of an Al-Qaeda
affiliated group there is very
minor. And it is clearly being used
as an excuse to continue attacking
civilian areas. So, now, the
question is, what can other states
do? Exert pressure on Russia, on
Syria, on Iran. We don't see it. And
so, we can hope for any other
measure that would help protect the
lives of civilians in particular.
What more can you tell me about the
how many humanities situation, are
the aid convoys getting through?
Red Cross has been able to go in.
But the convoys have been few and
far between. And clearly, even when
they get through, there are
insufficient quantities to provide
the entire population of the area,
which is about 400,000, with aid and
food. So, many people are hunkered
down in underground shelters and
don't dare to come out in most
cases. And even when they do, there
is no food to be had, so the
situation is clearly dire.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris
attracts around 13 million
visitors every year -
and is one of Paris's
But for how much longer?
Parts of the 850-year-old Gothic
masterpiece are starting to crumble,
because of pollution eating away
at the stone.
Hugh Schofield reports from Paris.
Because actually the parts
of the pinnacle have fallen down...
Outside on the roof above the back
of the cathedral, this is the part
of Notre-Dame that visitors don't
get to see - fallen chunks
of stoneware, gatgoyles
replaced by PVC pipes,
of stoneware, gargoyles
replaced by PVC pipes,
a flying buttress held together
with metal staples.
This jewel of Gothic architecture
is becoming unstable.
So, I think if there is no repairs,
the risk is that the stone
begins to fall down,
and the risk is also
that the structure itself
of the walls, of the nave
of the cathedral, for instance,
will be in danger.
Parts of the cathedral could fall,
and this is a big risk, yes.
You get a real sense
of the dilapidation of Notre-Dame
cathedral when you come here,
it's a little private garden just
behind the cathedral, off-limits to
and this section is what
they call the cemetery.
These pieces are all bits of Gothic
masonry which are in such bad repair
they simply fell off.
Some examples of stones that have
been recently damaged...
The problem is pollution,
combined with the cold and rain,
which together are eating
into the limestone -
eventually, it crumbles away.
The only solution is to replace
the masonry block by block,
but that is a massive job,
and the French state
can't afford it.
That's why the cathedral has
launched an international plea
for private funds aimed principally
at the US.
On this very roof,
after all, once cavorted
the hunchback of Disney fame -
oh, yes, and the book.
It's a unique jewel at the worldwide
level, so I think not begging,
but asking for help is the best
thing to do, because it's
not a French monument,
it's not a Paris monument,
it's a worldwide monument.
Time, the elements and the petrol
engine have exacted a heavy toll
on Notre-Dame cathedral.
Today, the imaginative genius
of its medieval craftsmen
is being eroded into annihilation.
Without urgent help,
much more will be lost.
Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris.
Bolivia has unfurled what it says is
the world's biggest flag as part of
its campaign to regain territory it
lost to Chile 100 years ago. The
flag is decorated with national
symbols. Look at all the work that
has been done on it. It was
stretched for about 200 kilometres
between two Bolivian Western cities.
Feel free to get in touch with me
and some of the rest of the team on