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Militia fighters and Iraqi army forces set out from base

An eyewitness and a local official have said a convoy of Shi'ite militia fighters and Iraqi army forces set out from a base near the western provincial capital of Ramadi, heading towards areas controlled by Islamic State militants.

Anbar provincial council member Azzal Obaid said hundreds of fighters, who arrived at the Habbaniya air base last week after Ramadi was overrun by Islamic State, were in Khalidiya and were approaching Siddiqiya and Madiq, towns in contested areas near Ramadi.

While pro-government forces are seeking to retake Ramadi, Islamic State insurgents have been pushing forward in the direction of Fallujah in a bid to take more territory in Anbar province that would bring them closer to the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

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Counting begins on same-sex marriage referendum

Counting in the Republic of Ireland same-sex marriage referendum has begun. More than 3 million people have been asked if they want to amend the country's constitution. With the turn out unusually high and far bigger for other recent votes. A result is expected later today.

ITV News' reporter James Webster explains:

Leslie questions 'secrecy' of BoE's EU exit assessment

Shadow chancellor Chris Leslie has raised questions over the 'secrecy' and 'concealment' surrounding the Bank of England's project looking at the economic risk to Britain if the country votes to leave the European Union

Chris Leslie accused the Conservatives of favouring the rich Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme Leslie said: "It's a very momentous decision that the country is facing, it's incredibly important for our place in the world and we have got to have the full information and analysis so that the British people can reach an informed decision.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to have an assessment of the consequences for jobs, trade and living standards, but why on earth so much secrecy and concealment?"

'Public safety paramount' in decisions on CCTV

A government official has said that "public safety is paramount" in decisions on CCTV.

'Public safety paramount' in decisions on CCTV. Credit: PA

A spokesman said: "Public safety is paramount and the majority of local authorities have continued to balance their budgets and increased or maintained public satisfaction with services.

"Decisions on CCTV provision should be a local decision by elected local councillors, reflecting local circumstances and the views of local residents - especially in relation to any concerns about crime."

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'Drug cartel henchmen' killed in Mexico gunfight

Forty-two 'suspected drug cartel henchmen' have been killed in a shootout with police, a government security force official confirmed today.

Mexico gunfight leaves 42 drug cartel members dead Credit: APTN

National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said the gunfight on a ranch just inside the Michoacan state border with Jalisco, western Mexico, lasted three hours and began after security forces were alerted to an "invasion" of the ranch.

After calling in air and ground support, government forces reportedly managed to capture three suspected gang members and seized a grenade launcher and 39 guns of varying calibres during the assault.

Federal policemen gather outside a ranch where a gunfight between hitmen and federal forces left several casualties Credit: REUTERS/Alan Ortega

One federal policeman died and another was injured in the battle which is being described by Reuters as "one of the bloodiest shootouts in a decade".

Plan to force mergers and speed up adoption rates

The proposed Schools and Adoption Bill will contain new powers to require local authorities to merge to speed up adoption rates if they do not do so themselves within two years.

Plan to force mergers and speed up adoption rates. Credit: PA

The Government said it would encourage town halls to set up their own mergers or outsource services to a single regional agency, while they will also be offered financial support to establish regional services.

Last year, according to the DfE more than 5,000 children were found the permanent home, representing a record increase of 26% over 12 months.

Weather: Plenty of warm sunshine into the afternoon

Any early morning mist and fog will lift quite readily today, leaving plenty of warm sunshine into the afternoon.

Early morning mist will lift and most place will enjoy sunshine. Credit: Met Office

Rain will start to move into the northwest through the morning, with heavy pulses arriving here late afternoon and the winds will strengthen too.

It will feel warm in the long sunny spells, with highs of 20 or 21 degrees Celsius (68 or 70 F).

Plans to 'speed up' adoption will be in Queen's Speech

Plans to force councils to merge services in order to speed up adoption rates are to be announced in next week's Queen's Speech.

Measures to speed up the adoption process will be outlined in the Queen's Speech. Credit: Lukas Coch / AAP/PA Images

Adoption is "happening at too small and localised a scale", the Department for Education (DfE) said, and mergers would increase the pool of potential adopters, reducing waiting times.

Every single day a child spends waiting in care for their new family is a further delay to a life full of love and stability. This just isn't good enough.

By coming together and joining forces, councils can make sure more children are matched with families far quicker - regardless of where they live.

– Children and families minister, Edward Timpson

Official figures suggest more than 3,000 children are waiting to be matched with new parents, with more than half having spent 18 months in care.

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