Vatican official says force may be needed to combat Isis

Pope Francis has previously said that it is 'lawful' to stop an unjust aggressor

A Vatican official says that the use of force may be required to protect minority groups from persecution from Isis.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s ambassador in Geneva, said that jihadists were committing “genocide” and must be stopped.

The Archbishop told US Catholic website Crux: “What’s needed is a coordinated and well-thought out coalition to do everything possible to achieve a political settle without violence, but if that’s not possible, then the use of force will be necessary.”

The Vatican’s position on military intervention in the Middle East has generally been one of restraint.

However, Pope Francis decried the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Isis in Libya on 21 February and said that it is “lawful” to stop an unjust aggressor.

The Archbishop's comments were published on the same day that a group of countries led by the Holy See, Russia and Lebanon issued a statement calling on the international community to support all ethnic and religious communities in the Middle East.

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In the interview, Tomasi further stated that Christians live in “serious existential risk in the region” but emphasised that all religious minorities deserved the right to be defended: “Christians, Yazidis, Shias, Sunnis, Alawites, all are human beings whose rights deserve to be protected.”

Any coalition, he said, must involve Muslim states from the Middle East and be guided by the UN.

In a February report a group of human rights organisations, including the Institute of International Law and Human Rights and the Minority Rights Group International, warned that Isis was trying to eradicate Iraqi minority groups from large areas of the country.

In the report, they detailed summary executions, forced conversions, rapes and other offences suffered by minorities.

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