IS militants tell 300 families convert or die
Baghdad - Islamic State militants have threatened to kill more than 300 families from Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority unless they convert to Islam, witnesses and a Yazidi lawmaker told Reuters on Saturday.
The families in the villages of Koja, Hatimiya and Qaboshi are surrounded by the Sunni militants who are mounting an offensive through northern Iraq which has sent tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians fleeing for their lives, prompting international outrage.
The first consignment of British aid to civilians sheltering in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq is expected to be dropped "imminently", Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Saturday.
However, he warned that aid drops were only a short-term solution and said officials were looking at how to help members of the minority Yazidi community who fled Islamic State extremists to a safer place.
Two Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130 transport planes took off from Britain earlier Saturday carrying reusable filtration containers filled with clean water, tents, tarpaulins and solar lights that can also recharge mobile phones.
"We can expect a continuing drumbeat of airdrop operations working in co-ordination with the US and potentially with others as well," Hammond told reporters following a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee.
"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."
The United States has already started dropping food and water on Mount Sinjar and is conducting air strikes against militants, although Britain has said it currently has no plans for any military intervention.
Britain's Department for International Development on Friday released $13m in emergency humanitarian aid for Iraq.
This includes 2 million of emergency supplies for 75 000 people, including the Yazidis.