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Pope prays to ‘convert hearts’ of IS jihadists

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Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience at St Peter's square on May 25, 2016 in Vatican.  / AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience at St Peter’s square on May 25, 2016 in Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE

Pope Francis on Wednesday asked God to “convert the hearts of those who sow death and destruction” following a series of deadly attacks by the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria.

During his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff prayed for “eternal rest to the victims” and “consolation to their relatives” after suicide attacks in the regime’s coastal heartland that killed more than 150 people on Monday.

Francis said almost all the victims of the seven explosions targeting bus stations, hospitals and other civilian sites in the seaside cities of Jableh and Tartus were “unarmed civilians”. Eight of them were children.

More than 300 people were wounded in the attacks on strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

IS claimed the blasts in a statement, saying they were in retaliation for Syrian regime and Russian air strikes against jihadists.


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