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Western powers move to help displaced Iraqis in troubled areas
The United States, Britain and France have begun to offer food, water and other badly needed supplies to displaced civilians stranded by Islamic State (IS) militants in mountainous northern Iraq.
French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that his country will send its first humanitarian aid for the displaced Iraqis, as Washington and London have airdropped essential supplies in northern Iraq.
Joining U.S. and British efforts to support civilians, "France would make in the coming hours first deliveries of first aid equipment," the president said, stressing that Paris is committed to "stand alongside the civilian victims of the ongoing Islamic State's atrocities."
During a phone conversation with Massoud Barzani, head of Iraq's Kurdistan region, the French leader said a political solution was necessary "more than ever" to end the deadlock in Iraq, which is member state of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Hollande also pointed to the necessity that "everything must be done to ensure the creation of national government in the shortest possible time that is committed to meet the aspirations of all the Iraqi people."
Over recent days, the IS militants have stormed towns in the northern part of Iraq in its advances to other parts of the country.
Thousands of civilians -- many of them from the ethnic Yazidi minority -- are trapped in the Sinjar mountains where they took shelter and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance after fleeing attacks by the militant armed group.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military conducted a third humanitarian airdrop in northern Iraq Saturday night.
"This airdrop was conducted from multiple airbases within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies," U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
To date, in coordination with the government of Iraq, U.S. military aircraft have delivered more than 52,000 meals and more than 10,600 gallons of fresh drinking water, it added.
The U.S. Central Command said the U.S. military will continue to work with international partners to assess the need for additional humanitarian operations in Iraq.
Britain has also begun airdropping as the situation in northern Iraq continues to deteriorate.
The first delivery of aid to the ethnic minority Yazidis, which also includes tents, water filters and solar-powered lights that double as phone chargers, took place overnight, the British officials said.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Saturday that 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.
Britain's Department for International Development on Friday released 8 million pounds (13 million U.S. dollars) in emergency humanitarian aid for Iraq.
At least 20,000 civilians who were besieged by the jihadists in the Sinjar mountains have safely escaped to Syria and have been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq, according to officials from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish government on Sunday.
[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 10Aug14]
War in Iraq
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