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News Wrap: Syrian rebels evacuate demilitarized zone

In our news wrap Monday, rebels pulled back from a demilitarized zone that was established in a deal that prevented a Syrian government offensive against Idlib province. Meanwhile, the country’s primary checkpoint with Jordan opened for the first time in three years. Also, British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that her government and the EU could still come to terms on Britain's exit.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And in the day's other news, a cautious calm prevailed in Syria's Idlib province, as rebels finished evacuating heavy guns and fighters from a demilitarized zone.

    It's part of a deal that prevented a Syrian government offensive against the country's last rebel-held province.

    In Damascus, Syria's foreign minister warned that the new focus is in the east, where U.S.-backed forces hold sway.

  • Walid al-Moallem (through translator):

    To be honest with you, after Idlib, our target is the east of the Euphrates. It is up to our brothers, whether they are tribes or Kurds, to decide what they want in the future, but under the slogan of returning Syrian sovereignty to all Syrian territories.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Elsewhere, a key border crossing with Jordan reopened after Syrian forces recaptured it. A crossing along the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights also reopened.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted today that her government and the European Union can still come to terms on Britain leaving the E.U. The two sides are hung up on the future of the border between British Northern Ireland and E.U. member Ireland. But May told Parliament that mains optimistic, ahead of an E.U. summit in Brussels this week.

  • Theresa May:

    We cannot let this disagreement derail the prospects of a good deal and leave us with a no-deal outcome that no one wants. I continue to believe that a negotiated deal is the best outcome for the U.K. and for the European Union. I continue to believe that such a deal is achievable, and that is the spirit with which I will continue to work with our European partners.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Britain is due to leave the E.U. on March 29 of next year.

    Back in this country, a federal judge in Boston began hearing accusations that Harvard University discriminates against Asian Americans. An anti-affirmative action group says that the school limits how many Asian Americans it admits, even when they score better than other. The U.S. Justice Department has opened related investigations of Harvard, as well as Yale University.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren released DNA tests today — results today, that is, that support her claim of Native American ancestry. They indicate that the Massachusetts Democrat's ancestor dates back six to 10 generations.

    Warren is seen as a possible White House contender in 2020. And President Trump has mocked her claim, calling her Pocahontas. Last July, he said he would donate $1 million to charity if — quote — "You take the test and it shows you're an Indian."

    Today, he was asked about his promise, and he said, "I didn't say that. I didn't. You better read it again."

    Later, he said he will pay only if he conducts the DNA test himself.

    On Wall Street, stocks gave ground for the sixth time in seven trading sessions. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 89 points to close at 25250. The Nasdaq fell 66, and the S&P 500 slipped 16.

    And Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died this afternoon in Seattle. A statement from his family said he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Allen and Bill Gates created Microsoft in 1975 and went on to become billionaires and major philanthropists. Allen also owned the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers. He was 65 years old.

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