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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.

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:

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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".

Result due today on Ireland's same-sex marriage vote

People in Ireland have been voting on whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Credit: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/PA Images

Counting of votes in Ireland's landmark referendum on gay marriage will begin at 9am today.

With more than 3.2 million people eligible to vote, including tens of thousands who registered at the last minute and returned home from overseas, the turnout was reported to be higher than average.

If the reform to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples is passed, the Republic will be the first in the world to bring it in by popular vote. It is only 22 years since Ireland decriminalised homosexuality.

Early indications of how the vote is going are expected to filter into the count headquarters in Dublin Castle around mid-morning, with the result known by the afternoon.

Voters are now being asked one simple, specific question on whether to amend Article 41 of the 1937 Constitution by adding a new clause to a section titled The Family.

It asks voters to support or reject a change to the 78-year-old document which reads: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

Mother found pushing dead son on a park swing

A woman was found pushing her dead three-year-old son on a park swing. Credit: Marius Becker / DPA/PA Images

Police in the US said they found a mother pushing her dead three-year-old boy on a park swing in Maryland early on Friday, Reuters reports.

Officers responded to a call around 7am to check on a woman who witnesses said had been pushing a child for hours on a swing at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata, according to Charles County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Diane Richardson.

When the officers arrived they found the 24-year-old woman still pushing the child in the swing, and they realised immediately that the boy was dead, Richardson said.

The child had no signs of obvious trauma, she said, and had been dead for at least several hours. An autopsy will be performed to determine the boy's cause of death.

The mother, who was not identified, was transported to a nearby hospital for medical tests, police said.

'40 killed' in Mexico drug cartel gunfight

At least 40 people have been killed in a huge gun fight between police and suspected drug cartel members in western Mexico.

File photo: A federal cop stands guard after a raid on the villa of a drug cartel boss Credit: Reuters

Officials say that "almost all" of the dead were suspected criminals.

The bloody firefight took place in an area between Michoacan and Jalisco states that is known as a stronghold of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, which has mounted several large-scale attacks on federal and state forces in recent weeks.

Michoacan governor Salvador Jara told local media "the likeliest thing is" the Jalisco cartel was involved in the shootout.

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Corfu deaths: Family's 'shock' at ITV News revelations

The family of two children killed by carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday in 2006 have expressed their shock that the two men found responsible for the deaths were still working in the holiday industry until earlier this week.

In a statement, the family said:

We are shocked that the manager and an electrician who were convicted for our children’s deaths were still as of this week working in the hotel industry in Greece.

We ask that Thomas Cook, the Louis Group and other Tour Operators acknowledge that this latest blow for the family is simply unacceptable and cannot be repeated. British holiday makers need to be reassured by the Travel and Tourism Industry that they will be kept safe on holiday.

– Family of Christi and Bobby Shepherd

They also reiterated calls for the bungalow where the children died to demolished and replaced with a playground dedicated to their memory.

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