By Thaier al-Sudani UDHAIM DAM, Iraq (Reuters) - Wearing military fatigues and a white turban, the Shi'ite cleric gave an eve-of-battle address to Iran-backed fighters preparing to attack Islamic State militants in Tikrit, praising them for defending their faith and urging them to fight honorably. Seated in front of him in rows, crossed-legged in the grass, were dozens of armed men from Iraq's largest Shi'ite militia, the Badr Organisation, the main element of a force now advancing on Tikrit's eastern flank against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants who now dominate most of northern Iraq. This week's multi-pronged attack is the biggest coordinated assault on the city, best known as the home town of executed Sunni president Saddam Hussein, since the radical Islamic State fighters seized it in June.
A top rights body said Wednesday that France was in violation of a European treaty because it did not fully ban the smacking of children, reigniting debate over the divisive issue. The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe said France's laws on corporal punishment for children were not "sufficiently clear, binding and precise". France bans violence against children but does allow parents the "right to discipline" them. French law does forbid corporal punishment in schools or disciplinary establishments for children.