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Pope Francis Condones Protecting Iraqi Minorities

Pope Francis on Monday condoned intervening in Iraq to stop Islamist militants from persecuting religious minority groups, but said that the strategy must be discussed by the international community and not decided by one country. "It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say, 'bomb, make war,'" Pope Francis said in comments to journalists while returning from a trip to South Korea. "One nation alone cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor," the pontiff said, warning that a lack of international discussion could lead to making "a true war of conquest."

The U.S. started launching airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham on Aug. 8 to hinder the militants from advancing on the Kurdish capital of Erbil, and help tens of thousands of minorities escape captivity. Francis clarified that not only Christians were being targeted by ISIS, but "martyrs" of various minority groups, who are "all equal equal before God." The pope said he was "ready" and "willing" to visit Iraq, but "at the moment it is not the best thing to do."

US airstrikes in Iraq aimed at helping reclaim dam 0:23

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— Elisha Fieldstadt