News Wrap: Syrian forces on the verge of recapturing Aleppo

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Free Syrian Army fighters fire an anti-aircraft weapon in a rebel-held area of Aleppo, Syria December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail - RTX2UP7M

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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Syrian rebels all but collapsed in the city of Aleppo, and the army of President Bashar al-Assad appeared on the verge of recapturing the city. By day’s end, the military said it now controls 99 percent of Eastern Aleppo, once a rebel stronghold.

Nonstop bombing overnight reduced more buildings to rubble, and heavy shelling continued throughout the day. The rebels were left with a tiny enclave.

In Turkey, police roundups were in full swing today across Turkey after twin bombings killed 44 people in Istanbul on Saturday. Officials detained 235 people who police said were linked to the outlawed Kurdish separatist party. Meanwhile, scores of protesters marched in Istanbul to denounce the bombings, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the soccer stadium where the attack took place.

The United Nations has a new secretary-general. The former prime minister of Portugal, Antonio Guterres, was sworn in today. Guterres has also served as U.N. high commissioner of refugees, and he vowed today to streamline operations to meet humanitarian needs.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General, United Nations: It benefits no one if it takes nine months to deploy a staff member to the field. The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on process, more on people and less on bureaucracy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Guterres will officially take office January 1. He succeeds Ban Ki-Moon, who served 10 years as secretary-general.

Authorities in Britain and Greece announced today that they have broken up a network that moved hundreds of migrants into Europe. The gang supplied lost or stolen passports and travel documents.

Meanwhile, rescuers pulled nearly 1,200 people from the Mediterranean yesterday. More than 4,700 have died trying to make the crossing this year.

Back in this country, an Arctic front pushed into the Northeast and New England after blowing across the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. The storm made morning commutes treacherous from Pennsylvania on up to Maine, where two people died. Meanwhile, parts of Michigan got more than 10 inches of snow, forcing hundreds of schools to close.

ANDY WILLIAMS, Detroit Resident: This is a bad snow. It’s real wet. It came down real soft. It came down. But over the night, it got warm, and so now it’s a heavy snow. It’s hard to clear off. Not too bad with this, but with a snowblower and stuff, it’s pretty tough.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Later this week, the system is expected to send temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal in the Midwest and the Eastern U.S.

Former U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah was sentenced to 10 years in prison today in a racketeering scheme. The Pennsylvania Democrat had been convicted of taking an illegal $1 million loan in a failed bid for mayor of Philadelphia. He also used charity funds to pay down his son’s college loans. Fattah served 20 years in Congress before being ousted.

And Wall Street mostly retreated, while the Dow Jones industrial average maintained — or managed another new record. The Dow gained 39 points to close at 19796. But the Nasdaq fell nearly 32 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

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