Chinooks to join UK bid to save trapped Iraqi refugees
More British military equipment is being sent to assist in the efforts to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Iraq, with a "small number" of Chinook helicopters being sent to the region.
Downing Street said the transport helicopters would be delivered to the region "for use if we decide we need further humanitarian relief options".
Following a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee, No 10 said the UK would also assist in transporting military equipment to Kurdish fighters following concerns they were being outgunned by the Islamic State (IS) militants.
Britain will not be supplying arms to the Kurdish forces, but would transport equipment provided by other countries, Downing Street said.
Three aid drops by RAFC-130 transport planes have now taken place to help alleviate the suffering of thousands of Yazidis left trapped on Mount Sinjar by the advance of IS.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: "Our focus remains the humanitarian situation, particularly those trapped on Mount Sinjar. Three UK aid drops have now taken place, with two C-130s delivering 3180 re-usable water containers, filled with a total of 15,900 litres of clean water, and 816 solar lanterns overnight.
"We will continue with these deliveries. And, as part of our efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Iraq, we are sending a small number of Chinook helicopters to the region for use if we decide we need further humanitarian relief options.
"Meanwhile urgent planning to get those trapped on the mountainside to safety will continue in the coming days ."
The UN said yesterday up to 35,000 refugees had escaped Mount Sinjar and are "exhausted" and "dehydrated".
The refugees, mostly from the minority Yazidi sect, managed to reach northern Iraq's Kurdistan region through Syria over the past three days.
"The new arrivals are exhausted, dehydrated and many have suffered sun or heat stroke," said UNHRC spokesman Adrian Edwards.
- A Russian-built Iraqi military helicopter providing aid to people stranded Mount Sinjar has crashed and killed the pilot after too many tried to climb aboard.