Iranian proxies declare ceasefire as Pope Francis prepares to meet rival Shia leader

A militant group implicated in a recent rocket attack on U.S. forces in Iraq has declared a ceasefire during Pope Francis’s visit, a grudging suspension of hostilities that hints at the political importance of the papal tour.

“We stop all forms military action during the Pope’s visit,” Saraya Awliya al Dam, Arabic for the Guardians of Blood, announced prior to the pontiff’s arrival.

The pledge offers a measure of reassurance as the pope visits territory roiled by threats from Iranian-backed militias; the Guardians claimed responsibility for last month’s rocket attack on Erbil, which President Biden countered by bombing a base in Syria used by
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