UN preparing humanitarian corridor in Iraq as U.S. starts airstrikes on IS militants

MOSCOW, (PNA/RIA Novosti) -– The United Nations is preparing to open a humanitarian corridor in northern Iraq where the U.S. military have launched airstrikes, Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, said Friday.

“Now that air drops have started, the UN in Iraq is urgently preparing a humanitarian corridor to allow those in need to flee the areas under threat,” Mladenov said, quoted by Agence France Presse.

Earlier in the day, Pentagon said that U.S. combat aircraft conducted an airstrike on positions of Islamic State (IS) militants fighting in Iraq. Two planes dropped 500-pound bombs on artillery that was being used by the IS against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama gave the green light to U.S. airstrikes on IS targets late on Thursday, saying that the offensive would seek to lift the IS siege of Erbil to prevent the “genocide” of the Yazidi population.

The Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), is one of the principal jihadist groups fighting against the Syrian government. The IS launched a full-scale offensive on northern Iraq in June, declaring itself an Islamic caliphate.

Fighters with the IS seized three towns during last weekend offensive, among them the town of Sinjar, which is home to many Yazidi Kurds, an ethnic and religious minority in Kurdistan.