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Published: Tuesday August 12, 2014 MYT 12:50:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday August 12, 2014 MYT 12:50:04 AM

Britain to send jets to Iraq to help direct aid drops

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will send surveillance jets to help get aid to refugees trapped on an Iraqi mountain after a plane was forced to abort a supply drop for fear the packages could hit crowds below, the government said on Monday.

Tornado jets will be positioned in the region to help ensure humanitarian relief can be safely dropped, Prime Minister David Cameron's office said in a statement after Britain's emergency response committee met.

"We have decided to pre-position a small number of Tornados in the region so that they could, if required, use their excellent surveillance capability to gather better situational awareness to help with humanitarian effort," the statement said.

Islamic State fighters in Iraq, who have beheaded and crucified captives in their drive to eradicate non-believers, have driven thousands of people of the Yazidi religious sect into the arid Sinjar mountain range in the heat of mid-summer.

Earlier on Monday a spokeswoman for Cameron told reporters that an overnight attempt to deliver aid to the refugees had to be abandoned at the last moment.

"So many people were coming towards the plane that unfortunately we weren't able to carry out that aid drop because we were concerned that we could have put lives at risk," the spokeswoman said.

Britain has so far delivered one aid drop to the mountain comprising water, filtration kits and solar-powered lanterns that double as mobile phone chargers.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Janet Lawrence/Ruth PItchford)

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