The Turkish government accused Pope Francis of spreading "lies and slander" on Monday after he denounced the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as a "genocide."

The denunciation once again showed the pope's "unconditional commitment" to the "Armenian narrative, which is incompatible with the historical truth," said a release from Turkey's Foreign Ministry.

Francis used the controversial term on Friday, at the start of his three-day trip to Armenia, to describe the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish Ottoman troops during 1915-16, prompting Turkey to fire back by blasting his "crusader mentality" on Sunday.

Successive Turkish governments have vehemently rejected the use of the term genocide to describe the mass expulsion and killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, of which Turkey is the successor state.

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