Pope demands ‘urgent’ action to protect civilians in Iraq

Pope demands 'urgent' action to protect civilians in Iraq

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis demanded urgent action Wednesday to protect civilians in Iraq, saying forces involved in the battle for Mosul have an obligation to protect innocents following a recent spike in civilian casualties.

Francis issued a special appeal for peace in Iraq at the end of his general audience. He greeted an interfaith group of Iraqis in St. Peter’s Square, encouraging them in helping Iraq find reconciliation among various ethnic and religious groups.

Francis said that he was particularly concerned about Iraqis trapped by recent fighting to take Mosul back from Islamic State group militants.

“In expressing profound sadness for the victims of the bloody conflict, I renew my appeal that everyone commit themselves to using all efforts to protect civilians, an imperative and urgent obligation,” he said.

The U.N. human rights office has called on the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes on Mosul to minimize civilian casualties, saying at least 300 people have been killed since mid-February including 140 from a single March 17 airstrike incident on a house. The U.N. says IS militants are using human shields and setting a trap for the coalition.

Amnesty International has said the rising civilian death toll suggested the U.S.-led coalition wasn’t taking adequate precautions as it helps Iraqi forces try to retake the city, though the U.S. has denied any loosening of the rules of combat.

The Iraqi group that met privately with Francis before the audience included Shiite and Sunni Muslims as well as representatives from Iraq’s Christian, Yazidi, Sabei and Mandei minorities. The delegation engages in dialogue with the Vatican’s office of interfaith relations.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Okanagan chefs battle at Great Kitchen Party

Chef Kai Koroll of 50th Parallel Estate Winery won the event Friday night

Pre-season booming at Big White with Hallmark movie production

Big White is the main drop for Hallmark’s film Alice in Winterland

Kelowna man sentenced to 18 months probation for filming co-workers in washroom

The man was conditionally discharged following a sentencing hearing on Friday

Woman wanted on Canada-wide warrant possibly in Kelowna area

Brittany McLellan is unlawfully at large and wanted for breach of federal parole

Interior Health issues warning about opioid-laced stimulants causing recent overdoses

Interior Health is urging residents using or considering using drugs to reconsider… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain

Upper Nicola Band says deal represents a ‘significant step forward’

Pedestrian struck and killed in Kamloops accident

Kamloops RCMP responded to the incident at 5:30 p.m. Friday night

Most Read