January 1, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a cease-fire deal in Syria that was brokered by Russia and Turkey.
The resolution expresses support for a roadmap to peace starting with a transitional government and calls for a rapid, safe and unhindered access to deliver humanitarian aid throughout Syria.
Michele Sison, the deputy U.S. representative to the U.N., says any cease-fire cannot be another chance for more fighting to break out.
"In that regard, we are concerned at reports of a regime offensive, supported by Hezbollah militia, in Wadi Barada. The Security Council's adoption of this text should be seen as a strong signal that such activities must cease."
Syrian rebels say repeated airstrikes by the government and its Russian allies could scuttle the two-day-old truce.
Conflict monitors said that warplanes were pounding rebel-held villages and towns northwest of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had no immediate reports of casualties, but that the area around the Barada Valley had been hit multiple times since Friday.
At least 28 people were killed and 54 others wounded when a pair of suicide bombings hit a market in central Baghdad Saturday. The twin attacks on the al-Sinaq market came as people were buying car accessories, food and clothes.
Iraqi officials say that minutes after the first suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden belt, the second one struck amid the crowd that had gathered.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
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New Year's celebrations continue across the world with fireworks, parties and other festivities amid tight security.
New Zealand, Australia and Russia were [the first] among the first to ring in 2017.
In Hong Kong, a massive fireworks display lighted the night sky and in Sydney, Australia, fireworks illuminated the city's famed bridge and Opera House.
In New York City, huge dump trucks filled with sand have been parked near Times Square to protect celebrants from vehicle attacks.
???Brook Muse is one of those waiting for midnight. "I just wanna come here to check it out. I want to see that ever since I was a kid. You know it's very glorified to us, you know, see a ball drop, seeing everybody get together and ??? warming experience, not too warm but very warming experience for everybody to be here."
At the Vatican, Pope Francis told those gathered for Mass that though the world celebrates youth and vitality, it must also make a way for young people to succeed.
He said, "At the same time, paradoxically we have condemned our young people to have no place in society because we have slowly pushed them to the margins of public life, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that no longer exist or fail to promise them a future."
Security is tight at many cities around the world, with barriers up in Berlin and in Paris following truck attacks earlier this year.
In his final weekly media address of 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama reflected on his achievements not only in the past year but also from the whole of his two terms in office.
The president said he wanted to thank the American people for the hard work they have done during his time as president. Mr. Obama also encouraged Americans to continue working to keep the gains made in recent years.
"Because that's always been our story - the story of ordinary people coming together in the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but always vital work of self-government."
Obama has less than three weeks left in office and noted in his address his transition to the more important role of citizen, but stated his commitment to the country.
President-elect Donald Trump, meanwhile, played gold on Saturday and tweeted "Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love."
Trump takes on the office of president when he takes the oath January 20 here in Washington.
For more, log on to our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.