UK & World News

  • 10 August 2014, 8:08

RAF Makes First Aid Drop To Iraqi Refugees

American jet fighters and drones have conducted four more airstrikes on Islamic militants in Iraq - as a British plane made its first humanitarian aid drop.

The US military said the strikes took out armoured carriers and a truck that were firing on civilians and came after Barack Obama warned the air campaign to restore order to Iraq could last for weeks, or even months.

The third wave of attacks on Islamic State (IS) fighters, formerly known as ISIS, came as one of two British C130s made humanitarian airdrops in northern Iraq on Sunday morning.

The planes were stocked with humanitarian aid, including reusable filtration containers, tents, and solar lights which can also recharge mobile phones.

They aim to ease the suffering refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar since fleeing Islamic State attacks on their homes a week ago, said to number between 50,000 and 150,000.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on Saturday announced "a continuing drumbeat of airdrop operations" around the Sinjar mountains. The Government has pledged an emergency £8m aid package to help refugees in Iraq.

The jihadists have been sweeping through northern Iraq, beheading and crucifying captives who refuse to be converted to Islam.

They have driven thousands of Yazidi people from their homes, leaving them stranded in the mountains in northwest Iraq without food or water.

Reports suggested that thousands of refugees, including children, may have already lost their lives after being trapped in the mountains without food and water for days.

At a press conference on Saturday Mr Obama said he viewed the US offensive in Iraq as a "long-term project" to rout out militants and deliver aid to beleaguered civilians.

The President, who has ruled out sending in ground troops, and David Cameron discussed the commitment to providing humanitarian relief during a telephone conversation on Saturday.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Both leaders also agreed that aid drops are not a long term solution, and that a way must be found to get these people to safety and to avert a genocide."

It is the first American offensive in Iraq since Washington pulled out its forces in 2011 after nearly a decade of brutal war.

He has also said US airstrikes aim to prevent IS fighters from attacking Irbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish region, where the US has a diplomatic mission.

"I'm not going to give a particular timetable, because as I've said from the start, wherever and whenever US personnel and facilities are threatened, it's my obligation, my responsibility as commander in chief, to make sure they are protected," Mr Obama told reporters.