News Wrap: As cease-fire starts, Assad insists he means to retain control

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Rebel fighters rest with their weapons in Quneitra countryside, Syria September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir - RTSN5AH

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GWEN IFILL:  In the day’s other news: a cease-fire in Syria negotiated by the U.S. and Russia is now officially in force.  It took effect at sunset, although government attacks continued in the city of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared in a recaptured Damascus suburb, and insisted he means to control the whole country again.

PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, Syria (through translator):  The Syrian state is determined to recover every area from the terrorists, to restore safety and security, to rebuild, to rebuild the infrastructure, to rebuild whatever is destroyed by all means.  We call upon all Syrians to move towards reconciliation.

GWEN IFILL:  A number of rebel groups expressed misgivings about the agreement, including over how it would be enforced.

Later, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the deal.  He even talked of approving Syrian strikes against al-Qaida militants once known as the al-Nusra Front.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  Assad is not supposed to be bombing the opposition because there is a cease-fire.  Now, he is allowed and will be to target Nusra, but that would be on strikes that are agreed upon with Russia and the United States.

GWEN IFILL:  That would mark the first U.S. cooperation with the Assad government since the Syrian civil war began.  Within hours, the State Department walked it back, saying there is no such provision in the agreement.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  China today rejected U.S. calls that it do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.  It came days after the North conducted a fifth nuclear test.  In Beijing, the foreign ministry said Washington stoked the tensions, and should bear the brunt of dealing with it.

HUA CHUNYING, Spokeswoman, Chinese Foreign Ministry (through translator):  The nub of the North Korean nuclear issue is not in China, but in the United States.  The U.S. should earnestly work on a tangible and effective solution.  There is an old saying in China:  Whoever started the trouble should end it.  Thus, the U.S. should take on its due responsibility.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The Chinese spokeswoman also voiced doubts about U.S. calls for new sanctions against the North.  Meanwhile, South Korea warned that the North is ready to set off another nuclear blast at any time.

GWEN IFILL:  North Korea is reeling from disastrous flooding after a typhoon hit late last month.  A U.N. report says the storm killed at least 130 people and destroyed thousands of homes.  North Korean state TV today showed footage of recovery efforts.  Workers cleared debris and worked to repair railway lines.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  In the Philippines, outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte is now demanding the U.S. withdraw all troops from his country’s south.  The U.S. has advisers there working with Philippine troops against pro-al-Qaida fighters.  Today, in Manila, Duterte blamed the American presence for inflaming Islamist groups.

PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE, Philippines (through translator):  There are a lot of Americans, white people there, and they have to go.  The conflict there will only get worse if they see American soldiers, and there will be more bloodshed.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Duterte said the bad blood goes back to U.S. efforts to stamp out Muslim rebellions in the early 1900’s, when the Philippines was a U.S. colony.

GWEN IFILL:  Back in this country, newly discovered documents show the sugar industry began funding research decades ago to dismiss links between sugar and heart disease.  The journal “JAMA Internal Medicine” today published an analysis of correspondence between the industry and Harvard researchers.  It said the resulting studies successfully cast doubt about the hazards of sucrose, while promoting fat as the culprit.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And soccer injuries are soaring among American children.  A study in the journal “Pediatrics” finds the number treated in emergency rooms jumped 78 percent between 1990 and 2014.  It was fueled, in part, by concussions.  Researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, say that it’s also due to soccer’s growing popularity.

GWEN IFILL:  Wall Street recovered some today from Friday’s big losses.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 239 points to close at 18325.  The Nasdaq rose nearly 86 points and the S&P 500 added 31.

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