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Vatican's approval of Iraq strikes a rare exception to peace policy

An Iraqi Christian girl, who fled with her family the violence in Iraq's largest Christian town of Qaraqosh, looks on in a room of Ainkawa's Saint Joseph church on August 12, 2014 on the outskirts of ArbilFearing a genocide of Christians, the Vatican has given its approval to US military air strikes in Iraq — a rare exception to its policy of peaceful conflict resolution. The Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, Silvano Tomasi, this weekend supported US air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni Islamic State (IS) militants, calling for “intervention now, before it is too late”. While the Vatican vocally disapproved of the US-led campaign in Iraq in 2003 and the 2013 plan for air strikes on Syria — fearing both might make the situations worse for Christians on the ground — fears of ethnic cleansing by Islamists has forced a policy change. Tomasi’s appeal follows warnings from Church leaders in Iraq that the persecution is becoming a genocide, with urgent help needed to protect Christians and Yezidis in the north of the country, where tens of thousands have been forced to flee for their lives.

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