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Iraq military bid to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown

A large-scale military operation has been launched in a bid to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown in Iraq, according to The Associated Press, citing the country's state television service.

Tikrit, which is around 80 miles north of Baghdad, fell under control of Islamic State militants last summer along with the country's second-largest city, Mosul.

Ahead of the operation, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on Sunni tribal fighters to abandon the extremist group, promising them a pardon.

Weather: Cold and windy with scattered showers

Showers will be felt mostly in the north and north-west.

It will be a cold and windy day with a mix of sunshine and showers.

Showers will be heaviest and most frequent in the north and northwest where they'll be wintry in many places with snow settling over hills.

Further south, showers will be a mix of rain, sleet and hail at low-levels with snow confined to hills. Turning drier here this afternoon with some sunshine.

Feeling cold everywhere in the blustery wind, especially near any heavy showers.

Call to ban unhealthy food ads before watershed

The UK has the highest rate of childhood obesity in western Europe. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Nearl two-thirds of people want to see a ban on adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt before the watershed, research has found.

The survey, commissioned by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) also found that nine out of ten would like to see better teaching about how to eat healthily in schools.

The body's president, Dr Hilary Cass, said the next government must take action as the UK has the worst child mortality rate in western Europe and the highest rate of childhood obesity.

As well as 64% supporting a ban on advertising unhealthy foods before 9pm, 62% said increasing spending on research to improve young people's health should be a prirority.

Man dragged along motorway as van stolen

The man was dragged along the M602. Credit: Google Maps

A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a motorist was dragged along the motorway in an effort to stop his van being stolen.

Police said the 28-year-old victim had pulled his vehicle over to help after seeing an overturned lorry on an M602 slip road just outside Salford, leaving his keys in the ignition - only for the lorry driver to jump into his van and drive off as he clung on.

The victim, who is in a critical condition, was dragged "for some distance" along the motorway before falling off and sustaining serious head injuries, Greater Manchester Police said.

A 43-year-old man is currently in custody in relation to the incident, and police are urging witnesses to come forward.

Detective Sergeant Julie Connor from Salford CID said: “We are keen to trace anyone who witnessed this incident and to recover the stolen VW Caddy van registration number DY14 FPN."

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William visits Forbidden City as China tour continues

The Duke of Cambridge visited Beijing's Forbidden City. Credit: Reuters

Prince William has visited the Forbidden City in Beijing as he continues his tour of China.

The Duke of Cambridge is the first senior member of the royal family to visit the country since the Queen in 1986.

During his visit he will be taken on a tour of the landmark, which has been the imperial palace complex of Chinese emperors for centuries.

US Army chief 'very concerned' about UK defence cuts

The head of the US Army has said he is "very concerned" about the impact of cuts on Britain's military capability.

Raymond Odierno said he was 'very concerned' at Britain's falling spending on defence as a proportion of national wealth. Credit: Reuters

In an interview with the Telegraph, Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno said the falling proportion of UK GDP committed to the military could mean British units eventually have to operate within US ranks rather than alongside them.

"We have to adjust our programme to make sure we are all able to see that we can still work together," he warned.

"As we look at threats around the world, these are global issues and we need to have multinational solutions.

"They are concerning to everyone. We all need to be able to invest and work together to solve these problems."

The warning came after former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox said he and fellow Tory MPs would find it "hard to swallow" should Britain not commit to Nato's 2% target on defence spending beyond 2016 while maintaining a 0.7% spend on aid.

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