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In our news wrap Thursday, the long, bloody battle for Syria’s largest city is finally over. Syria’s army announced that Aleppo is back under government control, marking the end of a four-year hold over parts of the city. Also, Russian President Putin attended a memorial ceremony in Moscow honoring slain Ambassador Andrei Karlov, who was gunned down in Turkey on Monday.
The long, bloody battle for Syria's largest city is finally over, with the fall of Aleppo. The Syrian army announced tonight that it is now in full control of the eastern half of the city, where rebels had ruled for four years. The last rebel fighters and civilians left Aleppo today, moving through heavy snow and wind before the military declared victory.
(through translator): By virtue of the pious blood of our martyrs, we declare the return of security and safety to the city of Aleppo. This is a crushing blow against the terror project and its backers. It is the starting point of a new phase to drive out terror from all the lands of the Syrian Arab Republic.
At least 34,000 people streamed out of Aleppo since last week. It marks the biggest victory of the civil war so far for President Bashar al-Assad.
In the day's other news, a memorial ceremony in Moscow honored Andrey Karlov, Russia's slain ambassador to Turkey who was gunned down on Monday. The killer shouted slogans about the plight of Aleppo. President Vladimir Putin was among the mourners who paid respects today at the Russian foreign ministry building. He promised retribution for Karlov's assassination.
Still no sign tonight of the Tunisian man wanted in Monday's massacre in Berlin, Germany. A manhunt is under way for the killer who plowed a truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12.
Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News, reports from Berlin.
ROHIT KACHROO, ITN:
He's in hiding on his 24th birthday, but Anis Amri is embarrassing German intelligence. Today, we learned they had intercepted old messages in which he offered to become a suicide bomber.
Police raided homes across Germany, and yet still no sign. Attempts to arrest him for a fourth and perhaps final time this year have been complicated by his 36-hour head start. Though officers did question several people, four taken away in Dortmund.
He left his ID card in a lorry he used as a weapon. But today, investigators discovered he left his DNA there, too.
The interior minister, alongside Chancellor Merkel said, "The suspect is with high probability the perpetrator. In the driving cabin, fingerprints were found and there is additional evidence that supports this."
Investigators have traveled to Tunisia where Anis Amri's heart-broken family say he must be innocent.
"If my brother is listening to me, I want to tell him to surrender, even for our family. We will be relieved. We don't do such things. Everyone knows our reputation here."
At the Christmas market in Berlin, a sort of normality returned, except this isn't normal. Concrete blocks were put up as the shutters went up for the first time since Monday night.
We'll take a closer look at questions about German security measures later in the program.
The U.N. Security Council has put off a vote on condemning Israel's settlement-building, indefinitely. Egypt pulled back its proposed resolution today, after Israel strongly objected. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also pressed the United States to use its veto. President-elect Trump spoke with the Egyptian president today and issued his own statement, saying, quote, "Peace will only come through direct negotiations. Not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations."
The president-elect tweeted today about two major defense issues as well. He said the U.S. must greatly expand its nuclear weapons capability, until, in his words, "the world comes to its senses." And he asked Boeing for the price of buying more F-18 Super Hornet Fighters. He cited what he called the "tremendous cost" of Lockheed Martin's F-35.
Also today, Kellyanne Conway was named White House counselor, and Sean Spicer was named White House press secretary. We'll return later to the prospects for press relations with the Trump White House.
State lawmakers in North Carolina were back home today, after an effort to repeal the so-called "bathroom law" ended in stalemate. The law bars legal protections based on sexual orientation. And, it requires that transgender people use bathrooms conforming with their sex at birth. Opponents of the law are expected to raise repeal again, next year.
Officials in southern Japan are going to destroy another 120,000 chickens, in a spreading bird flu outbreak. Today's announcement came just days after 200,000 birds were gassed at a farm in northern Japan. South Korea has culled 20 million birds since it reported an outbreak last month.
Just days before Christmas, it's nearly warm enough at the North Pole to melt ice, thanks to a surge of warm air. Air temperatures there were 32 degrees today, when it's typically 20 below. Worldwide, this year is set to be the warmest on record. The Arctic Region is warming at twice the global average.
And another sluggish day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 23 points to close below 19,919. The NASDAQ fell 24 points, and the S&P 500 slipped four.
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