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Vatican calls on Muslim leaders to denouce IS brutality

The Vatican has called for Muslim leaders to denounce the brutality of Islamic State (IS) extremist militants who have swept across Iraq, saying there was no possible justification for their "unspeakable crimes". 

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican called for Muslim leaders to denounce the brutality of Islamic State (IS) extremist militants who have swept across Iraq, saying there was no possible justification for their "unspeakable crimes". "The terrible position of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance from religious leaders, especially Muslims," the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said in a statement. 

The council said Islamic State militants were guilty of the "heinous practice of decapitation, crucifixion and stringing up bodies in public places", "kidnapping women and young girls", and "the barbarous practice of infibulation" among other things. Infibulation refers to genital mutilation. "No reason, certainly not religion, could justify such barbarism," the council said, calling on "everyone to unite in unambiguous condemnation of these crimes and denounce the use of religion to justify them."

This weekend the Holy See's ambassador to the United Nations, Silvano Tomasi, spoke out in support of US air strikes aimed at halting the advance of the militants, calling for "intervention now, before it is too late". His admission that "military action might be necessary" was a rare exception to the Vatican's policy of peaceful conflict resolution in the wake of reports from Church figures on the ground that Christian persecution may be becoming a genocide.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Iraq due to the rapid advance of the Islamic State jihadists. Last week, around 100,000 were forced to abandon the city of Qaraqosh, which had Iraq's largest Christian population, while thousands of members of the minority Yazidi community also fled into the mountains to escape the militant advance.