Scores of Iraqis flee ISIL fighting, scores more volunteer for battle
Sunday, June 22, 2014 - 02:09
By the bus load, Iraqi men volunteer to fight radical Sunni militants, while scores of families flee the violence only to become refugees in their own country. Mana Rabiee reports.
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One by one, the men arrive to volunteer for the battle ahead. Iraqis flocked to recruitment centers on Sunday, like this one in Baghdad. They're joining the fight against radical Sunni militants called ISIL. They're an al Qaeda offshoot and they've seized towns and cities across the north of the country in just two weeks. The fighting has divided Iraq along sectarian lines. A division some Iraqis resist. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) VOLUNTEER AHMED JASSIM SAYING: "This is the cause of a country and it is not a cause of a Sunni or a Shi'ite. We have to cooperate to terminate the rats." If official estimates are true, more than two million have volunteered over the past week. This, after a call from the country's most influential Shi'ite cleric, to take up arms against a full-blown Sunni insurgency, that many here believe includes foreign fighters. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) VOLUNTEER ABBAS JABBAR SAYING: "We responded to the call to fight these rats who come from outside to destroy Iraq. We are all united. Iraq is united as Sunnis, Shi'ites, Kurds, Christians. All is one." Iraqis are fleeing the violence, becoming refugees in their own country. The U.N. says it's helping a MILLION people displaced in the fighting. Some 1,000 families are at this U.N. camp, a two or three hours' drive north of Baghdad. (SOUNDBITE) REFUGEE, ABU MOHAMMED, SAYING: "The bombardment harmed us and because of it, we hired a car. We hired a vehicle with 210,000 Iraqi dinars. We came from Naufel district to the Kurdistan region. We were warmly welcomed by the people here." ISIL seeks to set up a Sunni caliphate along the Syria-Iraq border, that ignores boundaries set by colonial powers a century ago. On Saturday, they seized a border post near the town of al-Qaim. The fall of the town means the militants are one step closer to their military goals, as a twentieth century border appeared to crumble in just a day.
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