ROME — Pope Francis’ plans to travel to Iraq on March 5 are “unaffected” by recent violence in Baghdad and Erbil, the Vatican and Iraq’s Foreign Ministry concur.
Last Monday, an Iraqi armed group called Guardian of Blood Brigades fired off more than a dozen rockets at the airport and civilian areas of Erbil, killing a U.S. military contractor and wounding six others, including a U.S. service member.
On January 21, twin suicide bombings perpetrated by Islamic State terrorists in Baghdad claimed 32 lives, injuring at least 100 more.
In December, Iran-linked gang members and militia fighters carried out bombing raids on liquor stories in Baghdad, mostly owned by Christians and Yazidis.
Erbil and Baghdad are both on the pope’s itinerary for his March 5-8 apostolic visit to the country, but in spite of recent violence, both the Vatican and the Iraqi government said this week the trip will proceed