Iraq crisis: Britain sends spy plane and aid packages as Islamic State massacres 80 Yazidi men

Reconnaissance aircraft Rivet Joint has been sent to Iraq to monitor the situation, as civilians continue to be targeted by Isis militants

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The Independent Online

Eighty Yazidi men have been killed and a number of women and children kidnapped in an attack by Islamic State (Isis) militants in northern Iraq.

Survivors of the assault told officials that the insurgents had stormed the town of Kocho, near Sinjar, on Friday afternoon and demanded villagers “convert to Islam or die”.

Yazidi politician Mahma Khali said that the fighters had besieged the village for a number of days, while Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman for Kurdish security forces, said women and children were captured.

Kocho is in a region controlled by Isis, who it was suggested may have targeted the villagers in revenge for US strikes on the al-Qa’ida-inspired group.


US drones had launched fresh airstrikes on Friday morning, destroying two armoured vehicles belonging to Isis fighters near to where the civilians were later massacred.

It comes as Britain deploys a spy plane to help bolster humanitarian efforts in Iraq.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that the RC-135W Rivet Joint, an “all-weather electronic surveillance aircraft”, had been flown over areas in the north of Iraq, where Isis insurgence have made considerable gains in the last couple of months.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “Rivet Joint has helped build an understanding of the humanitarian situation in Northern Iraq and the associated [Isis] threat.

“The intelligence and insight it has provided has guided our humanitarian efforts, giving us an accurate picture of what is going on on the ground so that we could best deliver aid to the Yazidi people.”

Rivet Joint can pinpoint the locations of people on the ground using sensors on the aircraft that can pick up electromagnetic signals.

Britain is also sending a fresh consignment of aid to the region following the latest report of civilian causalities. It contains 8,000 cooking sets to help the estimated half a million refugees in the Dahuk province to cook for themselves.

The United Nations Security Council has also unanimously approved to sanction Isis’ spokesman and five other fighters in an effort to choke the group’s funding.

Travel bans and asset freezes have been imposed in a “comprehensive rejection” of the group, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, said.

Sir Mark added that the internal community needs to be “resolved, active and creative in considering what further measures should be taken to tackle this terrorist scourge”.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “Displaced Iraqi people who have managed to escape Mount Sinjar have walked many miles in searing heat, and now find themselves in camps cut off from their homes and without any possessions.

“They have shown immense courage to get off the mountain and the UK is committed to giving them support. These kitchen sets will enable displaced people to feed themselves and their families.”

Additional reporting by PA