Pope begs for ceasefire in Syria

Pope begs for ceasefire in SyriaPope Francis, in his strongest appeal to date on the conflict in Syria, on Wednesday called for an "immediate ceasefire" to allow for the evacuation of civilians, according to Reuters.

The war in Syria has escalated since efforts to reach a ceasefire collapsed in September. Syria and its ally Russia subsequently launched their biggest offensive on the city of Aleppo's rebel-held sectors.

"It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging those responsible, with all my strength, for an immediate ceasefire," he said before tens of thousands of people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Francis said a ceasefire was essential "at least for the time necessary to allow for the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped by cruel bombardments."

Francis has made many appeals for an end to the bloodshed in Syria. Last month, he urged forces to stop bombing civilians in Aleppo, warning them they would face God's judgment. He did not name those carrying out the air strikes.

On Sunday, Francis promoted the current Vatican ambassador in Syria, Italian Archbishop Mario Zenari, to the high rank of cardinal in order to show the concern of the 1.2 billion member Catholic Church for Syria.
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