Iraqis flee fighting but support insurgents

ERBIL - The intensity of Iraq's religious divide is on full display among refugees from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, which fell to ISIS Tuesday.

Most fled to the northern city of Erbil.

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Hardly any of the refugees says they are frightened of the militants

They have flooded out of Mosul, but hardly any of them say they're frightened of the armed extremists - even after they announced they'd enforce strict Islamic law.

Most of these people are Sunni Muslims. They resent their country's government and fear Iraq's leaders will bomb Mosul to flush the militants out.

Umm Muhammed and Shohaib Musahem left Mosul on Saturday, but told us the militants, known as ISIS, are doing a good job of running the city.

Would they like ISIS to be the government of Iraq?

Yes, Musahem said. We need them, because they're doing great things

Local support - and this country's deep religious divisions - have helped ISIS sweep through northern Iraq.

"They must make it equal for all the people," said Atheel al-Nujaif, the governor of Nineveh Province, of which Mosul is the capital.

But now he's a refugee too, after the Iraqi government soldiers, who were supposed to protect him, laid down their weapons and ran away.

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Refugees resent the government and praise the militants

Is it true that when the militants overran Mosul they stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the bank?

"They said, 'We will use it in controlling the city,'" the governor said.

How much money?

"About $400 million," he said.

Will they use it to carry out terrorism?

"Of course," he said.

The speed at which the Islamic militants have seized towns and cities seems to have taken everyone here by surprise. But Iraq's religious tensions are nothing new - and this country is, once again, standing on the brink of civil war.

  • Holly Williams

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