The Vatican had been criticized for being slow to react, with Pope Francis limiting himself to calls for a peaceful resolution. (AP/Andrew Medichini)
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Fearing a genocide of Christians, the Vatican has given its approval to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq -- a rare exception to its policy of peaceful conflict resolution.While the Vatican vocally disapproved of the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq in 2003 and the 2013 plan for airstrikes 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 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.Religious watchers said Tomasi's support for airstrikes did not mean a change in Vatican policy on war spearheaded by a bellicose Francis.
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