Iraq crisis: UK rules out military intervention after US announces possible air strikes against Isis militants

David Cameron has called for international help for trapped Yazidis

David Cameron has welcomed possible US air strikes against Islamist militants in Iraq as his office rules out British military intervention.

The Prime Minister called for international aid for thousands of people from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority who are trapped up a mountain and face slaughter at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) or starvation.

Barack Obama answered the Government’s call for help in the escalating crisis and said the US military will conduct air strikes if necessary to help Iraqi forces "fight back" to free the civilians on Mount Sinjar.

"I fully agree with the President that we should stand up for the values we believe in - the right to freedom and dignity, whatever your religious beliefs," Mr Cameron said.

"I have tasked officials to urgently establish what more we can do to provide help to those affected, including those in grave need of food, water and shelter in the Sinjar area."

Condemning the “barbaric” attacks by Islamic militants who have swept across the region and gained control of several towns and villages, he said he was “especially concerned” for the Yazidi community.

Read more: Trapped Yazidis face dying of thirst or slaughter
Isis takes Iraq’s largest Christian town as residents told – 'leave, convert or die'
Barack Obama authorises US air strikes in Iraq

Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul. Tens of thousands fled the weekend assault on Sinjar and are now surrounded, according to witnesses and the United Nations, after the Sunni militants inflicted a humiliating defeat on Kurdish forces who had held towns in the area for years Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul. The minority sect melds parts of ancient Zoroastrianism with Christianity and Islam and followers are considered by the al-Qa’ida-inspired Isis to be devil worshippers and apostates.

Humanitarian agencies have estimated that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians remain trapped on Mount Sinjar since being driven out of surrounding villages and the town of Sinjar on Sunday.

Unable to find water or vegetation, many children and elderly people have already died and families unable to dig into the rocky mountainside are having to bury loved ones shallow graves, their bodies covered with stones.

Downing Street has confirmed there will be no UK military action in Iraq, saying “we are not planning a military intervention”.

"We welcome the action taken by the United States overnight to provide vital supplies to those Iraqis in desperate need who are fleeing from Isil terrorists," a spokesman said.

“It is essential that those trapped are now allowed to reach a place of safety where they can continue to be provided with food, water and life-saving assistance and it is appalling that Isil are preventing them from doing so.

"Isil has a poisonous record of destruction and murder of innocent people of all faiths, including their own.”

The Sunni extremist group has targeted Shia Muslims, Christians and other minorities in its bloody campaign to establish an Islamic Caliphate in northern Iraq.

The UK chaired a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday night to discuss what more can be done to protect civilian lives and to stop the advance of Isis.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, said the US was right to intervene.

The Conservative MP and former Foreign and Defence secretary, told Radio 4's Today programme: "The United Nations has what is often referred to as a responsibility to protect.

“That's a general statement but means when you have some potential humanitarian disaster on a vast scale then you can't just sit back and say how sad it is, you have to try and intervene.”

Sir Malcolm, who opposed the Iraq War in 2003, said it was too simplistic to blame the current instability on the invasion but that “there is no doubt that war and the aftermath of it caused a fundamental split between the Sunni and Shia population, created instability and ungovernability in many places in Iraq and therefore has certainly contributed to the terrible drama we're seeing at the moment”.

Additional reporting by PA

Read more: Isis brings war to Lebanon - and it could be key to a masterplan
Kurds face sectarian recriminations as Baghdad becomes Shia dominated
While world watches Gaza and Ukraine, Isis is winning its war
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk