Iranian court rejects U.S. pastor’s appeal

BOISE, Idaho — The wife of an American pastor serving eight years in an Iranian prison says the Tehran Court of Appeals has rejected his appeal for a reduced sentence.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, whose family lives in Boise, Idaho, has been jailed in Iran since last September. He was charged with attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes. He was tried and sentenced in January.

Naghmeh Abedini says her 33-year-old husband’s faith remains strong, but he’s been suffering from internal bleeding.

She says their two small children pray for their father’s release daily, and she hasn’t had the heart to tell them about the court’s ruling.

Pope urges solution to Syria’s civil war

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says he has been disturbed by “terrible images” of atrocities occurring in Syria, and he is urging the international community to step up its efforts to end the civil war there.

Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square last Sunday that Syrian and rebel forces must put down their arms.

He renewed his call for dialogue as the West considers a military response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations last week to allow a team of international experts to visit the site of alleged chemical weapons attacks last week outside Damascus.

Anti-government activists and Doctors Without Borders say that more than 300 people were killed. Images purporting to show the aftermath of the attack are filled with people gasping for breath and dead children unmarked by any wounds.

At least 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s crisis began in March 2011.

Associated Press