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Pope calls for immediate Syria ceasefire as bombing resumes

Pope Francis drinks Mate during mass, one of Syria's national drinks [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 October, 2016

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As heavy Syrian regime and Russian bombing resumes in Aleppo, Pope Francis has called for a ceasefire in Syria to help civilians.

Pope Francis has called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria, or "at least" a truce enabling civilians - especially children - to be evacuated.

It comes after Aleppo came under another fierce air assault from the regime and Russian war planes, following the deaths of hundreds of civilians in weeks of bombing.

"I want to underline and reiterate my closeness to all the victims of the inhumane conflict in Syria," he said at his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.

"It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging those responsible, with all my strength, for an immediate ceasefire to be imposed and respected at least long enough to consent the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under the ferocious bombardments."

On Tuesday, regime ally Russia carried out its heaviest air strikes in days on Aleppo, killing 25 civilians including four children according to a monitor, and causing massive damage in several residential areas of the city's rebel-held east.

Damascus announced a bid last month to retake the city, which has been divided since mid-2012.

The assault began after the collapse of a short-lived truce negotiated by Washington and Moscow, and has seen the besieged east Aleppo come under fierce aerial assault.

The Syrian regime claimed it would reduce its bombardment, after the largest remaining hospital in the east was destroyed, leading to mass international outrage.

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