One of the thousands of Iraqi Christians forced to flee their homes to escape Sunni militants described his escape from the violence Friday. The 42-year-old, who NBC News has agreed to call Sameer for his own safety, was forced to leave his liquor shop in Bartella, a Christian enclave near the city of Mosul that was overrun Wednesday by militants from Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)."I heard today that ISIS fighters broke into my shop and destroyed it," he said. "My store is a part of my house, I'm afraid they might burn it, if this happened my house also would be burned. I left about $30,000 of stuff in my store, that’s all that I own."
When Sameer heard that militants were poised to seize his town, the father-of-three waited until nightfall then drove his family to the city of Erbil, five hours away. Elderly and religious figures who stayed behind in Bartella were forced to convert to Islam, pay a $200 fine or face execution, he said. Sameer's account emerged as the Pentagon announced it had carried out airstrikes on ISIS militants to protect Erbil.
- Alexander Smith