THE first cargo plane carrying UK emergency aid has left RAF Brize Norton for Iraq.
The aircraft is due to drop supplies including drinking water and tents over the weekend to help members of the Yazidi religious minority trapped on a mountainside.
A meeting of the Government's Cobra committee is expected to take place this afternoon to assess the crisis.
The US has begun airstrikes against targets engaging Kurdish forces near the key city of Irbil, but Britain has ruled out military action at this stage.
Instead, David Cameron has signalled the UK will focus on delivering humanitarian aid - with large numbers of people displaced by fighting and the advance of IS in the north.
Thousands of Yazidis have been driven into the barren Sinjar mountains, and hundreds of women from the minority seized by the militants.
The UK's £8 million emergency package includes reusable filtration containers, tents, and solar lights which can also recharge mobile phones.