CHINOOK crews from RAF Odiham are gearing up for a humanitarian mission to help refugees in northern Iraq.

The news was announced by Downing Street after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chaired an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon.

The Foreign Office said “a small number of Chinook helicopters” would be sent to the region for use “if we decide we need further humanitarian relief options”.

Tornado jets have already arrived in Cyprus from the UK to help with the aid effort.

The announcement comes after Islamic State forces made advances, reportedly trapping thousands of Christians and members of the Yazidi religious sect in mountainous areas of northern Iraq.