ROME, August 15 (RIA Novosti) – Italy will begin flying humanitarian aid to northern Iraq on August 16, the Italian Foreign Ministry said late Thursday.
The decision was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti.
The first two planes with humanitarian cargo will depart for Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region, on Saturday. In total, six flights will deliver over 36 tons of water, 14 tons of nutritional biscuits, 200 tents, and 400 sleeping bags to Iraq.
On Thursday, Australia conducted its first humanitarian aid airdrop to the Yazidi Kurds in northern Iraq trapped on Mount Sinjar while fleeing from Islamic State (IS) militants.
Earlier on, Britain conducted humanitarian airdrops to the Iraqi refugees, delivering water and solar lamps. The United States has carried out a number of humanitarian aid deliveries to the region, providing Iraqi Kurds with food and water. In addition, Britain and France intend to supply Iraqi Kurds with arms to help them fight IS militants.
The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, is a Sunni group that has been fighting in Syria and launched an offensive in Iraq in June. The group has taken over large parts of the country, with a goal of seizing Baghdad. The group has also announced the establishment of a caliphate on the Iraq-Syria border.
Iraqi Kurds have already re-established military cooperation with Baghdad in an effort to drive IS fighters back. But tens of thousands of Yazidi Kurds are still stranded atop Mount Sinjar after fleeing the IS insurgency. Yazidis are a religious minority in the country’s north who now run a risk of being massacred by the radical Islamist group.