Air strikes and aid for siege town

Published: Sunday 31st August 2014 by The News Editor

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An international food and water drop supported by US air strikes has taken place in an attempt to bring relief to the beleaguered Iraqi town of Amirli.

The town has been under siege by Islamic State (IS) militants for nearly two months.

Aircraft from Australia, France and Britain joined the US in delivering the aid to thousands of Shiite Turkmen in the farming community about 105 miles north of Baghdad, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said. He said the aid came at the request of the Iraqi government.

The US military conducted air strikes against IS militants to support the aid delivery. The scope and length of time of the operations would be limited as needed to address the humanitarian crisis in Amirli and protect the civilians trapped there, Rear Adm Kirby said.

Instead of fleeing in the face of the IS drive across northern Iraq, the Shiite Turkmens have stayed and fortified their town of 15,000 with trenches and armed positions.

While Amirli fought off the initial attack in June, it has been surrounded by the militants since mid-July. Some residents have said that the Iraqi military’s efforts to fly in food, water and other aid have not been enough amid oppressive heat, lack of electricity – the town’s power station was destroyed weeks ago – and shelling from the militants.

US air strikes in Iraq, which began earlier this month, have targeted militants attacking Yazidi Iraqis on Mount Sinjar and the militant forces operating around Ibril and Mosul Dam. The beleaguered Yazidis received several humanitarian drops of tons of food and water as well as military support aimed at protecting them.

Yesterday US Central Command said five more air strikes had taken place against IS militants near Mosul Dam. Those attacks, carried out by fighter aircraft and unmanned drones, brought to 115 the total number of air strikes across Iraq since August 8.

Meanwhile, Australian military aircraft will fly guns and ammunition into Iraq to help fight the militants.

“The United States government has requested that Australia help to transport stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions, as part of a multi-nation effort,” prime minister Tony Abbott said.

“Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft will join aircraft from other nations including Canada, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to conduct this important task.”

He did not say when the air drops would begin, but News Corp newspaper reported in Sunday that the transport aircraft based at al-Minhad Air Base outside Dubai could fly their first mission within days.

Australian C-130s had previously made humanitarian air drops including food and water to thousands of people stranded by fighting on Mount Sinjar.

Published: Sunday 31st August 2014 by The News Editor

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