Refugees warily monitoring situation back in Iraq

SPOKANE, Wash. - As ISIS forces move closer to Baghdad, the unraveling situation in Iraq is hitting home to approximately 300 Iraqis who are now living in Spokane, many of whom have loved ones trapped in Iraq.

Sajida Nelson, who is originally from Mosul, moved to the Spokane area four years ago and now works at World Relief.

"It's sad that I can't do anything. That's the frustrating thing, that I can't do anything," Nelson said.

Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, was one of the first cities take over by ISIS, which stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The group is moving across the country, performing mass executions of deserting soldiers, with designs to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state.

"We have relatives trying to get out but there is no safe way actually or fast way for them to leave," Nelson said.

The United States is increasing its presence in the Persian Gulf to prepare for whatever course of action President Barack Obama calls for but Nelson isn't fond of that option.

"I would like to see first the Iraqi government act first before any other country would want to help," Nelson said.

Haithan Dawoud, who also lives in Spokane now, fled his native Iraq in 2003 after he was shot at for working the Americans. He would like to see the United States intervene in Iraq.

"I hope the progress wouldn't go away like that and I hope and pray things will progress and Iraq becomes a free liberated country forever," Dawoud said.

In the meantime, Nelson and Dawoud hope people in the United States will keep positive thoughts and embrace those who've taken refuge here.

"Just hope and believe in God that things will be better eventually and get better soon," Dawoud said.

While there are about 300 Iraqi refugees living in Iraq right now, World Relief anticipates more will be moving to Spokane in the coming days.