09:13 GMT +321 January 2020
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    THE VATICAN (Sputnik) - Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, said on Sunday that states should show restraint and engage in dialogue to ease rising international tensions in the wake of a US drone attack that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force.

    "In many parts of the world, a terrible air of tension is felt. War brings only death and destruction. I urge all parties to fan the flame of dialogue and self-restraint, and to banish the shadow of hostility," the Pope said during his traditional Sunday sermon.

    The Pope then called on worshipers to pray for peace.

    In the early hours of Friday, Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of an Iraqi Shia militia group, were among those killed by a US drone attack near Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani and al-Muhandis were blamed by Washington for organizing demonstrations at the US Embassy in Baghdad on 31 December.

    US President Donald Trump said the recent strikes were a preemptive, defensive move to prevent war, although later claimed that Washington has identified 52 further Iranian targets at which US forces are ready to strike. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned that Tehran will take revenge for what it views to be a heinous crime.

    On Friday, the head of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, said that the Pope was following the ongoing situation between Washington and Tehran with prayers.

    Qasem Soleimani, Iran, Pope Francis
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