Iraq crisis: UK welcomes UN pressure on Islamic State

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Media captionContaining about 20 Iraqi families two weeks ago, the Nuroz refugee camp has now swollen to hold about 15,000 people, reports the BBC's Paul Wood

Britain has welcomed a UN resolution designed to weaken Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The United Nations Security Council gave unanimous approval to the document, which was drawn up by the UK.

It backed sanctions on individuals recruiting, financing, supplying weapons, or fighting for Islamic State (IS) and linked groups.

The UK Ministry of Defence has revealed that its Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft has been operating in Iraq.

'Immense courage'

The reconnaissance plane had been operating in the region for the last few weeks, a spokeswoman said, helping to "build an understanding of the humanitarian situation... and the associated [Islamic State] threat".

"The intelligence and insight it has provided have guided our humanitarian efforts giving us an accurate picture of what is going on the ground so that we could best deliver aid to the Yazidi people," she added.

Rivet Joint

Image copyright MOD
Image caption The UK's Rivet Joint aircraft provides real-time intelligence by intercepting electromagnetic signals
  • The UK bought three Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft from the US in 2010, one of which is in operation.
  • All three are expected to have been delivered by 2017
  • They replace the Nimrod R1 as the UK's spy plane
  • The aircraft can operate in all weathers, are equipped with a variety of sensors and are able to carry out onboard analysis
  • The MoD says the planes are "highly inter-operable with the US", making them ideal for joint operations

British aid planes carrying cooking equipment to enable 40,000 refugees to feed themselves arrived in Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, earlier.

Almost 8,000 sets including cutlery, plates and frying pans will be distributed by the UN to people in the Dahuk region displaced by violence.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "They have shown immense courage... and the UK is committed to giving them support.

"These kitchen sets will enable displaced people to feed themselves and their families."

It comes after the RAF made seven air drops of UK aid in the past week.

The militants' rise has seen an estimated 1.2 million people driven from their homes, prompting the UN to declare its highest level of emergency in the country.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Displaced members of the Yazidi community are among those forced from their homes by the violence

UK ambassador to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant said Friday's unanimous Security Council vote sent a "clear political message" that the world was acting to tackle the IS threat.

Sir Mark said the UN resolution would not immediately curb IS in Iraq and Syria but it was an important first step.

Travel ban

He said the resolution showed the international community was "united in its resolve to oppose and confront" the "brutal and mindless terrorist acts" of IS.

"It contains measures to choke off recruitment and target the growing phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters," he added.

"It tackles the financing of terrorism, calling on all member states to cease immediately all trade and material support that enables Isil and other terrorist groups to function."

The Security Council also made six people associated with IS or the Syria-based Nusra Front subject to an international travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo. An IS spokesman is among the six.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The UK's UN ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, read a statement to the Security Council ahead of the vote

The UK, which as well as carrying out surveillance has already been transporting weapons provided by other countries, said on Friday it would "consider favourably" any request by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters for arms.

France and the US have already supplied arms to the Iraqi Kurds.

Villagers 'massacred'

Thousands of people are fleeing from IS fighters in the region, who are said to be targeting Iraqi Christians and members of the Yazidi religious sect.

The UN has declared the situation in the country a "level three emergency" - its highest level of humanitarian crisis.

On Saturday, US air strikes targeted IS fighters near north Iraq's vital Mosul dam, after reports of an operation by Iraqi and Kurdish forces to recapture it from the militants.

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