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Pope Francis Takes 12 Syrian Refugees Back From Greek Island

F. Brinley Bruton | NBC News

Three Syrian refugee families flew to the Vatican with Pope Francis on Saturday following the pontiff's brief but provocative visit to a Greek island at the center of the European migrant crisis.

"The Pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children," the Vatican said in a statement after the pope's plane took off from Lesbos, Greece.

His trip to Lesbos was aimed at thanking the Greek people for welcoming refugees and to meet with migrants as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey.

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