UK & World News

  • 12 August 2014, 15:08

UK Carries Out Second Aid Drop In North Iraq

The RAF has completed its second aid drop over Northern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

More than 3,000 reusable water containers holding 3,500 gallons of water and other "essential supplies" were dropped on Mount Sinjar.

Up to 40,000 Yazidis remain in the sweltering mountains after fleeing militants from the Islamic State (IS).

A previous attempt to drop supplies had to be abandoned for fear it could hurt those on the ground.

A "small number" of Tornado jets are also being sent to the region so they can be used, if required, to help ensure humanitarian supplies are delivered.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Iraq's new Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi to form a new government quickly, following his appointment on Monday.

It had looked like his appointment could result in increased instability after the incumbent prime minister Nuri al Maliki refused to step down from the role he has had for eight years.

But reports from Iraq said many of Mr Maliki's previous supporters backed Mr Abadi's appointment and on Tuesday a senior Iranian official, the Arab League and Saudi Arabia also welcomed the move.

Meanwhile, Mr Maliki ordered Iraq's security forces to stay out of what he called a "political crisis", damping fears they may intervene.

The US has been calling on Baghdad to form an "inclusive" government for many weeks in order to counter the threat from IS, formerly known as ISIS.

Mr Kerry said of Mr Abadi, a former exile in the UK: "We are urging him to form a new cabinet as swiftly as possible and the US stands ready to support a new and inclusive Iraqi government and particularly its fight against (the Islamic State)."

Mr Kerry had been meeting with senior figures in the Australian government and said afterwards that the allies would take the threat posed by jihadist foreign fighters to the United Nations.

The UN move came after Australia's prime minister slammed a "barbaric" photo which apparently showed the seven-year-old son of a militant holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier.

The European Union said it was increasing its aid to Iraq by 5m euros, bringing its total to 17m euros, in addition to the £13m in total provided by the UK.

The US's Centcom military information centre said it had carried out five aid drops on Mount Sinjar and a number of airstrikes on IS targets near the mountains.

France is planning a second aid drop into the mountains of Sinjar in the next two days.

The US has admitted that airstrikes against militants will not be enough to halt the advance of IS.

Joint staff operations director Lieutenant General William Mayville said: "We assess that US airstrikes in northern Iraq have slowed Islamic State (IS) ? however, these strikes are unlikely to affect IS's overall capabilities or its operations in other areas."

But Mr Kerry also tried to allay US fears of being drawn back into another ground conflict in the area - 11 years after it launched a war in the country.

"There will be no reintroduction of American combat forces into Iraq. This is a fight that Iraqis need to join on behalf of Iraq," Mr Kerry added.

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