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ERBIL, Iraq - Christians who have fled the bloody campaign of ISIS in Iraq said U.S. plans to snuff out the Sunni militants will not be enough and that American combat troops are their only hope.
President Barack Obama pledged overnight to lead a "broad coalition" of allies to tackle the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham - but without American combat troops.
That disappointed many on the ground in northern Iraq, who told NBC News they want boots on the ground.
"Only Americans can fix it," said one man taking shelter in an unfinished building in Erbil, a city of 1.5 million that has become a safe haven for religious minorities who have escaped and fled religious persecution at the hands of ISIS militants. "They should just send their soldiers into Iraq and Syria, not just fight from the air."
He and others, who requested anonymity out of fear for their lives, said they do not see how local, Iraqi forces can defeat the extremists.
"I was with the Iraqi army in Mosul for four years and I can tell you we did not do anything, just collected a salary," said the man, who fled from the Christian town of Qaraqosh. Qaraqosh, once a town of 40,000, has been terrorized by ISIS fighters amassing power and laying down harsh Sharia law.
"We're happy that the U.S. is conducting air strikes," another man said. "But it's not enough. We need something to happen now."
Obama has stressed that U.S. involvement will not lead to a repeat of the Iraq war - but some Christians who spoke to NBC News waxed nostalgic for those times.
"When the Americans were in Mosul, we had no problems," another man said. "When they left, the troubles started."