Valley Iraqis want help for their home country

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Military leaders say it could take years to defeat Islamic State fighters, and the Pentagon admits that airstrikes alone will not wipe out ISIS.

As the coalition continues targeted strikes, many Iraqi immigrants living in the Phoenix area are wondering if U.S. help will come soon enough for their families. Many of these people are tired of feeling helpless.

They celebrated the ousting of Saddam Hussein, only to watch all the work and sacrifice of the international community dissolve over the past few months.

This Glendale home saw something extraordinary this week. Iraqis from all backgrounds -- Sunni and Shiite, Yazidi and Armenian, Kurdish and Christian Assyrian -- gathered to talk about ISIS and what it means for their country.

"One goal in life and that's peace," George David said, proudly wearing his U.S. Army uniform. His family emigrated from Iraq in the 1970s.

"Kind of brought back a lot of emotions because we come from that area," David said. "We were born in that region and some of the humanitarian atrocities that are taking place, we cannot stand for it."

His sister, Mona Oshana, brought these people of Iraq together. They all hope someone will hear their plea for help.

"We are all standing here as a coalition to say we appreciate what the international community did, what the United States did," Oshana said. "But where did it go? How did we lose it?"

"He is from Sinjar and he has family over there," Elias Kasem translated for Omar Hussein. Both men are Yazidi, the same religious minority trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq as ISIS invaded, killing men and taking women and girls.

"He said he would rather be killed than have our own girls, these young girls captured at the hands of these animals" Kasem said.

ISIS has not spared any sect that doesn't meet its hard-line view of Islam.

"They try to stay home, to be safe," Muthanna Mahdi said through an interpreter. He is a Shiite from Baghdad, but his family is a blend of religions and backgrounds. That makes them a target.

"They are killing all kinds -- Christians, Sunnis, Shias, everything," he said. "They are trying to separate people; they are trying to make trouble everywhere.”

These Iraqis are tired of the trouble, tired of being separated. They want Iraq to be a place that embraces diversity as they did in Oshana's Glendale home.

"I want to bring back the attention of the world to the people being hurt," Oshana said. "We are people, my people. I am an American, but I was born in that country."

This group will continue to bring attention to the killing of sects such as Yazidis and Christians. They hope the U.S. will move to find a safe haven for them and help them defend themselves against ISIS.