Fearing a genocide of Christians, the Vatican has given its approval to US military air strikes in Iraq — a rare exception to its policy of peaceful conflict resolution.

The Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, Silvano Tomasi, this weekend supported US air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni Islamic State (IS) militants, calling for “intervention now, before it is too late”.

“Military action might be necessary,” he said.

While the Vatican vocally disapproved of the US-led campaign in Iraq in 2003 and the 2013 plan for air strikes 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.

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