Thousands of Iraqis flee to Kurdish region to escape ISIL
Thousands of Iraqis have fled their homes after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked Christian areas in northern Iraq.
The Iraqi civilians waited at a checkpoint near the city of Arbil on Wednesday to cross into the northern Kurdish region to take refuge there.
The militants from the terrorist group are reportedly pushing ahead toward Iraq's Kurdish regions.
Witnesses say what began as random gunfire quickly evolved into rockets and heavy artillery fire in Christian areas.
"First there was gun fire and then we heard rockets fired at the Christian areas... The situation got worse and we fled," one of the internally displaced people said.
On June 10, the militants took control of the Nineveh provincial capital Mosul, in a lightning advance, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.
Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants in different fronts and have so far been able to push back militants in several areas.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul a “conspiracy". He has also blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, and denounced the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.