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Britain airdrops humanitarian aid for besieged Iraqis

© AFP/File | Iraqi Yazidi families who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, receive food at a school in the Kurdish city of Dohuk on August 5, 2014Iraqi Yazidi families who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, receive food at a school in the Kurdish city of Dohuk on August 5, 2014

Britain has begun airdropping food and water to thousands of civilians stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq after fleeing jihadist militants a week ago, officials said Sunday.

The first delivery of aid to the minority Yazidis, which also includes tents, water filters and solar-powered lights that double as phone chargers, took place overnight.

"The world has been shocked by the plight of the Yazidi community. They face appalling conditions, cut off on Mount Sinjar after fleeing persecution," said international development minister Justine Greening.

"The UK has acted swiftly to get lifesaving help to those affected. 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 in the wake of an attack by extremist Islamic State militants on the region a week ago.

The United States has already started dropping food and water on Mount Sinjar and is conducting air strikes against the militants.

Britain has said it currently has no plans for any military intervention.

France was expected to begin delivering first aid equipment to the Sinjar region later in the day, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius left for Iraq early Sunday.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain planned to set in motion "a continuing drumbeat of airdrop operations working in coordination with the US and potentially with others as well".

"But more widely we are looking at how to support this group of people and get them off that mountain, how we are going to facilitate their exit from what is a completely unacceptable situation," Hammond told reporters on Saturday.

Britain's Department for International Development on Friday released £8 million ($13 million, 10 million euros) in emergency humanitarian aid for Iraq.

This includes £2 million of emergency supplies for 75,000 people, including the Yazidis.