Local Iraqis worried about families back home - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - 760 KFMB AM - 760kfmb

Local Iraqis worried about families back home

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The violence in Iraq hits close to home for Iraqis living here in San Diego. They're worried about family members who have been forced to flee as the militants advance.

Hanni Matti is a Chaldean -- or Iraqi Christian -- who moved to the US at age 15 and still has many relatives in Iraq. His uncle lives in Tikrit, one of the cities overrun by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. He hasn't heard from him in three days.

"Every time I see that it like breaks your heart. It's like crazy. Everyday they're killing people like more and more and more and more and it's not fair," he said. "It's been hard. It's been like three days now not even sleeping, just thinking about it."

Mark Arabo is also a Chaldean and the president of the Neighborhood Market Association, which represents many Iraqi-owned stores in San Diego. He says they've been getting calls daily from people worried about family overseas.

"Fifty percent of the people are children, children with no fault of their own. Parents with no fault of their own, getting not only displaced from their homes, it's a possible genocide," Arabo said.

He says there are between 300,000 and 400,000 Chaldeans in Iraq that are being targeted by extremists.

"We're hoping that the US, with like-minded nations, would lead from behind and support a mass exodus of all Christians and minorities to other regions," he said.

He says that is the only solution when it comes to protecting Iraqi Christians. Arabo doesn't think the country will ever be the same.

"This isn't just America's problem. It's the world's problem. We cannot turn a blind eye on a possible genocide," he said.

So far the US hasn't made any big decisions, making it that much more agonizing for people like Hanni.

"I would love like everybody just to pray for them and they can just be safe over there," he said.

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