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Pope's Iraq envoy says minorities being targeted by Islamic State must be defended

Pope Francis' envoy to Iraq says religious minorities being attacked by Islamic militants need to be defended and protected so they can return home in security, reinforcing the Vatican's position that military force is justified in this case.

Francis has said it was "licit" to stop an unjust aggression, but that the international community — and not just a single country — must decide how.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni went further in an interview Friday with The Associated Press upon his return from northern Iraq, where he delivered money and met with minority Christians and Yazidis. He said Kurdish leaders don't want ground troops, just equipment to fight.

"I found it very, very impressive. They don't want a war. They want just to defend their land," he said.