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Pope Francis expresses solidarity with Iraqi Kurdistan after missile attack

Violence and attacks have spread throughout the Middle East region, including Iran's launch of ballistic missiles on January 15, 2024, in the neighborhoods of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, which has left the Iraqi Catholic community feeling unsettled. (Photo Credit: OSV News/Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Pope Francis extended his sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the recent missile attack in an urban area of Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In his weekly General Audience, the Holy Father underlined that good relations between neighbors are built not through violence but with dialogue and cooperation.

“I ask everyone to avoid any step that increases tension in the Middle East and other scenarios of war,” he said.

Pope Francis once again appealed for prayers for the numerous victims of war around the world.

“War always destroys. War does not sow love. It sows hatred. War is a true human defeat. Let us pray for the people who suffer in war,” he said.

On January 16, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched ballistic missiles at what it claimed were the headquarters of the Israeli spy agency Mossad in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

The attack also hit targets allegedly linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) in Northern Syria.

The Kurdistan government reported that at least eight explosions in Erbil resulted in the deaths of at least four civilians and caused six injuries.

Multimillionaire Kurdish businessman Peshraw Dizayee and several members of his family were also killed after at least one rocket landed in their home, according to sources from the Iraqi Security and Medical Council.

Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called the attack “a crime against the Kurdish people.”

According to the Guard’s statement, the attack is part of Iran’s offensive operations against ISIS to avenge “the last drops of martyrs’ blood.”

Early this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for two explosions in Iran that murdered nearly 100 people during a memorial service for Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.