BEIRUT

Middle East

Britain aborts second Iraq aid drop over safety fears

Displaced people from the minority Yezidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Sinjar town, ride a truck as they make their way towards the Syrian border August 10, 2014. (REUTERS/Rodi Said)

LONDON: Britain was forced to abort a second air drop of humanitarian aid to refugees in northern Iraq Monday over fears about hitting the people below, a military spokesman said.

Another attempt to deliver desperately needed food and water to Yezidis who fled Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) jihadists and are stranded on Mount Sinjar is likely to take place within the next 24 hours.

"The ongoing effort to get badly-needed supplies to displaced people in northern Iraq continues," a spokesman for the Royal Air Force said.

"The safety of the Yazidi community is paramount. With a number of people at the drop sites this morning, the crew made the responsible decision not to carry out the air drop to ensure that the lives of those in the area would not be put at risk.

"We plan to deliver the next drop as soon as possible."

Two transport planes left Britain Saturday and the first drop was made that night, including 1,200 water containers providing 6,000 liters of water, and 240 solar lanterns that double as phone chargers.

Britain is also working with the United States, Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Turkey and other international partners on how to bring the Yezidis down from the mountain, officials say.

Britain has offered surveillance and refueling support for U.S. aid flights, but insists it will not be joining Washington in conducting airstrikes on the ISIS militants.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron's office reiterated his position Monday, and said that a recall of parliament from its summer recess to discuss Britain's response was "not on the cards."

"We have been clear that British combat troops will not be going back to fight in Iraq," she said. "There is not a discussion under way on the UK playing a role in airstrikes."

Asked about the possibility of arming local forces on the ground, she said: "We do think it's important that the Iraqi forces, including the Kurdish forces, are able to respond to ISIS and to tackle this crisis in the country.

"We will look at what options there are that might enable them to do that. But there have not been substantive discussions on that yet and there are certainly no decisions."

 

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Summary

Britain was forced to abort a second air drop of humanitarian aid to refugees in northern Iraq Monday over fears about hitting the people below, a military spokesman said.

Two transport planes left Britain Saturday and the first drop was made that night, including 1,200 water containers providing 6,000 liters of water, and 240 solar lanterns that double as phone chargers.

Britain is also working with the United States, Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Turkey and other international partners on how to bring the Yezidis down from the mountain, officials say.

Britain has offered surveillance and refueling support for U.S. aid flights, but insists it will not be joining Washington in conducting airstrikes on the ISIS militants.


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