December 16, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
Ambulances and government buses began evacuating wounded people and other civilians from the last rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo Thursday. The evacuation is part of a new three-day cease-fire.
Evacuees will eventually make it to another rebel-held part of the province.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country is also prepared to accept evacuees from Aleppo.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is calling what he termed the "liberation of Aleppo" as a major historic moment.
In Washington, though, Secretary of State John Kerry is blaming the Syrian government for the dire situation in Aleppo. "... and the Assad regime is aiding and abetting, and the Assad regime is actually carrying out nothing short of a massacre. And we have witnessed indiscriminate slaughter, not accidents of war, not collateral damage, but frankly, purposeful, a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians." :John Kerry.
Ukraine says it will pardon and release 15 prisoners captured in separatist areas of eastern Ukraine as a way to encourage prisoner exchanges with pro-Russian rebels.
A key lawmaker says prisoners will receive a presidential pardon and be returned home before the two sides meet for talks in Belarus next week.
Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry says traces of explosives have been found on the bodies of some of the victims of the EgyptAir crash last May.
State prosecutors are expected to take over the investigation into the EgyptAir Flight 804 crash that killed 66 people.
No cause of the crash, including terrorism, has yet been ruled out and no group has claimed responsibility for the downing.
This is VOA news.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump complained Thursday about what he believes are attempts to undermine his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. He was referring to disclosures that Russia launched cyberattacks to boost Trump's chance of winning last month's election.
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia hacked into computer accounts at the Democratic National Committee as well as the computer of Clinton's campaign chief John Podesta.
Trump calls the claim "ridiculous," saying no one can be sure who did the hacking.
The White House pointedly suggested Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally authorized the cyberattacks.
Leaders of the European Union met in Brussels Thursday. They discussed sanctions against Russia because of its activities in Ukraine, Europe's migrant crisis and Britain's decision to leave the EU.
British Prime Minister Theresa May left before a planned dinner, a sign that Europe's second largest economy will soon no longer be a part of the bloc.
At the meeting, EU leaders agreed to a compromise with representatives from the Netherlands that will allow increased cooperation and trade with Ukraine. The Netherlands is the only country that has not ratified the so-called "Association Agreement" that would help Ukraine achieve closer relations with the West.
Mark Rutte is the Dutch Prime Minister: "It wasn't easy, it wasn't pleasant, it's necessary, because it ensures that the European Union can continue to form a united front against destabilizing Russian foreign policy." Mark Rutte.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Japan for two-day of talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr. Abe says he hopes to make progress on resolving the fate of four islands of Japan's northern coast, known as Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
The islands were seized by the Soviet Union in 1945, and the dispute over the land has prevented the two countries from signing a formal agreement to end World War II hostilities.
The two leaders will conclude their talks Friday in Tokyo.
Officials say a blast believed to have been caused by improvised explosive device tore through a Somali army checkpoint and nearby displaced persons' camp Thursday, killing six government soldiers.
A regional administrative spokesman says the blast occurred at the entry checkpoint into the southwestern part of Mogadishu. He said at least 13 people were injured in the blast, most of them women and children.
In another incident, a suspected al-Shabaab suicide bomber detonated explosives near a Mogadishu restaurant. He was killed and seven people were wounded in that incident.
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.