News Wrap: U.S. to step up airstrikes against Taliban; aid arrives in Syria

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

On the "NewsHour" tonight:

Saying goodbye to "The Greatest." Thousands gather to celebrate the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky.

Then:

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Candidate: Donald Trump would take us in the wrong direction on so many issues we care about.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Candidate: Hillary Clinton's Wall Street agenda will crush working families.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In a new phase of the presidential race, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go head to head for the first time as the two likely nominees.

And it's Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze a full week of news.

Also ahead, it's a big year for the stage. With the Tonys around the corner, we look at standout stage productions, including the record-setting musical "Hamilton."

BEN BRANTLEY, Chief Theater Critic, The New York Times: But it really is unlike anything that's come on Broadway before, and it's drawing audiences that Broadway hasn't really brought in en masse in many years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House confirmed today that the military now has approval to expand airstrikes in Afghanistan. They will be in support of Afghan troops against the Taliban. And U.S. ground forces will be joining Afghan units on more missions.

At the same time, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stressed that the U.S. will not be taking on direct combat roles.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: We are actually giving our commanders on the ground the ability to decide to do more where it's appropriate. And that's why it is not a change in our mission, but rather it gives them the ability to conduct this mission of advice and assistance in slightly more areas, if our commanders have concluded that it's beneficial.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Afghan leaders have been appealing for American airpower to resume backing up their soldiers. U.S. airstrikes on the Taliban largely ended in 2014.

In Syria, food deliveries have reached the besieged rebel suburb of Damascus, for the first time in four years. U.N. and Red Crescent officials entered the town of Daraya overnight. It's been under siege by government forces. Dozens of convoys brought in basic food items and medical supplies. The U.N. estimates between 4,000 and 8,000 people are living in Daraya.

The European soccer championship, Euro 2016, kicked off today in France, amid tight security. The country is still under a state of emergency after terror attacks in recent months. And tensions surged last night in Marseilles, when fights broke out.

Keme Nzerem of Independent Television News reports.

KEME NZEREM: This is not what France needs, more violence in Marseille, where England is playing Russia tomorrow, and reports spreading of more trouble between rival fans and local youths, like there was last night.

The problem is, people are twitchy for another reason. France is under a state of emergency, but last night tens of thousands danced the night away at the opening concert in Paris. Nearly 100,000 more have flocked into the Stade de France for the opening game.

Yards away, this anonymous side street. Many fans will be oblivious to the secrets it holds, but not Aca Pavlovic. Last November, he nearly died when shrapnel from suicide bombs strafed this lamppost and his flesh.

But Aca will be back tonight, selling scarves to raise money for survivors like him.

ACA PAVLOVIC, Attack Survivor (through translator): It is a stadium. The game goes on, and so does life. People need to celebrate and go and see the games. And that makes me happy.

KEME NZEREM: Into this cauldron of hopes and dreams, fans from 24 European countries are pouring. But it is France, no doubt, with the most at stake.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The month-long tournament comes as France is struggling with strikes by garbage collectors and public transit workers.

A wave of religious murders surged again today in Bangladesh. A Hindu holy man was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants in the country's north. That follows the killing of a Hindu priest, and a fatal attack on a Christian grocery store owner earlier this week. Police have launched a crackdown, and detained hundreds of suspects.

Back in this country, the man they called Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, died today. He's considered one of the greatest players ever.

John Yang has more on his life.

ANNOUNCER: That's right, Gordie Howe is on his way to his third goal of this game.

JOHN YANG: He had some of the best skills, and sharpest elbows, in the game, second on the all-time scoring list with 801 goals and winner of four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. Gordie Howe's 32-year career spanned five decades, as The Detroit Free Press put it today, from World War II through Vietnam, Truman to Carter, Sinatra to the Sex Pistols.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of Howe's legacy.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Canadian Prime Minister: His career inspired and gave rise to many, many dreams and many, many Canadians of what could be, what might be.

ANNOUNCER: And Howe was in the right place at the right time.

JOHN YANG: Howe was the league's most valuable player six times. A gentleman off the ice, he was a ferocious competitor on it. During his career, he had some 500 stitches to his face alone.

GORDIE HOWE, Former Professional Hockey Player: In my early days, I would yell, look out, and then I would hit him. If I didn't like him, I would yell out when I hit him.

JOHN YANG: He retired after the 1971 season, but came back two years later to play in the upstart World Hockey Association with his sons Mark and Marty.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up on the right side, Howe over the line to his father.

JOHN YANG: They were the only father-son teammates in pro sports. Howe called it the highlight of his career. He was a 52-year-old grandfather when he left the game for good.

Howe was diagnosed with dementia in 2012 and suffered two strokes in 2014. He was 88 years old.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A milestone of a decidedly different sort for the first family, today: President Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, graduated from high school. She attended the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, and plans to take a gap year before starting college at Harvard.

And Wall Street had its second off day in a row, as stocks were hit by falling oil prices, and global growth concerns. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 120 points to close at 17865. The Nasdaq fell 64, and the S&P 500 slipped 19.

Still to come on the "NewsHour": a funeral fit for "The Greatest," Muhammad Ali; Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade barbs; a day in the life of a middle-class family struggling to make ends meet; and much more.