2016-10-20 10:43




October 19, 2016

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting to reclaim the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants say they have retaken a dozen villages outside the city. On the second day of the offensive, fighting remained on the outskirts of Mosul.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to reporters in Washington Tuesday. "I'm confident that we can succeed, although it's going to be a tough fight and a difficult fight. It is Iraqis who are doing the fighting. And they are performing effectively and bravely."

Meanwhile, the United Nations says it has not yet seen the expected outflow of residents from Mosul. Margaret Besheer reports.

Updating reporters on Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said so far there has not been any significant displacement.

"Movements out of the city have been limited, and displacement is anticipated to become more significant in the coming weeks."

The U.N. has six emergency centers running near Mosul which can receive up to 60,000 people. They expect to have 22 centers operating within the next few weeks that could accommodate more than 400,000 people.

Margaret Besheer, the United Nations.

Russia says its forces and those of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have stopped bombing the Syrian city of Aleppo ahead of a "humanitarian pause" planned for Thursday.

An Iranian prosecutor says an Iranian-American businessman and his 80-year-old father have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for espionage.

The Mizan news agency reported Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer, were convicted of (quoting now) "cooperating with the hostile American government." Both have dual citizenship.

This is VOA news.

Leaders from Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine will gather Wednesday in Berlin to discuss further action on the Minsk peace plan, which was meant to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

A German government spokesman says Chancellor Angela Merkel invited the foreign leaders to "discuss the next steps" needed to bring peace to the region.

The U.S. Advisory Council on human trafficking is calling for changes in the way authorities deal with people rescued from slavery and exploitation.

The first report of the all-volunteer council was released Tuesday. It called for more extensive training for law enforcement, comprehensive government services for survivors and funding to empower survivor leadership.

U.S. President Barack Obama rebuked Donald Trump Tuesday for claiming that the November presidential election is rigged against him. Mr. Obama said the Republican candidate should "stop whining" and simply make his case to the voters.

As he has fallen behind in national polls against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump in recent days has questioned the legitimacy of the election.

Trump campaigned today in Colorado.

"The press has created a rigged system and poisoned the mind of so many of our voters. They have rigged it from the beginning by telling totally false stories, most recently about phony allegations where I have been under constant attack."

Mr. Obama said no serious person could suggest that it is even possible to rig America's elections in part because they are so decentralized.

Mr. Obama has welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to the White House. He is hosting the final state visit of his presidency.

The Italian leader and his wife were greeted Tuesday on the lawn of the White House.

In his remarks, Mr. Renzi gave the American president credit for turning around a country "hit by crisis."

Following the ceremony, the two leaders held talks in the Oval Office.

Belgium has charged four people with participating in and aiding a terrorist organization by funding it and recruiting people to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office said the charges followed a police raid on 15 houses in three cities, during which 15 people were taken in for questioning.

The U.S. State Department is denying that it had any role in shutting down WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's Internet link.

WikiLeaks claimed Monday that the Internet connection had been intentionally severed by a state party. WikiLeaks did not name the nation it suspects of cutting the connection but links the matter to the recent release of materials in connection to U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

On Wall Street, U.S. stock indexes were higher at the close of trade today.

In Washington, I'm David DeForest.

That's the latest world news from VOA.

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