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Britain has started airdropping food and water to besieged Yazidi

US forces said they had “successfully (conducted) four airstrikes to defend Yazidi civilians being indiscriminately attacked”.

Source: centcom/YouTube

US JETS ATTACKED jihadists who have besieged civilians on an Iraqi mountain for a week, as Britain and France this morning joined a desperate race to save them from starvation.

Two days after Washington deployed its airforce over Iraq, a coordinated Western aid effort was shaping up to avert what US President Barack Obama warned could be an impending genocide.

An attack by extremist Islamic State (IS) militants on the Sinjar region a week ago sent thousands — many of them from the Yazidi minority — scurrying into a nearby mountain.

Most have since been stranded on Mount Sinjar in searing summer heat with little food and water. A Yazidi leader warned Saturday that they would not survive much longer.

US forces “successfully (conducted) four airstrikes to defend Yazidi civilians being indiscriminately attacked” near Sinjar, the US military said late Saturday.

Mideast Iraq Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive to the camp of Bajid Kandala at Feeshkhabour town near the Syria-Iraq border. Source: AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

Obama has said he was confident the US airforce could prevent IS fighters “from going up the mountain and slaughtering the people who are there” but added the next step of creating a safe passage was “logistically complicated”.

US and Iraqi cargo planes have been air dropping food and water over Mount Sinjar, a barren 60-kilometre (35 miles) ridge that local legend holds as the final resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Britain joined the effort overnight Saturday with its first air drop over Sinjar of food and water.

“The world has been shocked by the plight of the Yazidi community,” said International Development Minister Justine Greening.

Last night the RAF (Royal Air Force) successfully dropped lifesaving UK aid supplies, including clean water and filtration devices, on the mountain.

Two RAF C-130 transport planes were deployed to the Sinjar region on Saturday

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also arrived in Iraq, where he is due to oversee the first delivery of French aid for displaced people in the Sinjar area.

“The United States can’t just look away. That’s not who we are. We’re Americans. We act. We lead. And that’s what we’re going to do on that mountain,” Obama said Saturday.

Obama Iraq sident Barack Obama speaking on the South Lawn of the White House yesterday. Source: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

But many civilians have been cowering in caves and are scattered across the range.

Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of Iraq’s parliament, warned Saturday that anything short of a mass evacuation was unlikely to save all those who are stranded on the mountain.

Several thousand of mainly Yazidi civilians have managed to flee the mountain but a majority, including the weakest among the displaced, remain trapped.

An alliance of Kurdish fighters from Iraq, Syria and Turkey has escorted Yazidis and members of other minorities to safety but IS remains largely in control of the area.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: No end in sight: Obama warns that new US intervention in Iraq is a “long-term project” >

More: Over 28,000 meals and 5,600 litres of water dropped over northern Iraq amid continued air strikes >

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