Pope Francis calls for negotiations, civilian protection in Syria

Pope Francis calls for negotiations, civilian protection in Syria
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Vatican City: Pope Francis on Sunday called on the international community to ensure the safety of civilians in Syria’s Idlib province, one of the last opposition-held territories in the conflict-ridden nation.

“The winds of war are still blowing and we are receiving disturbing news of a possible humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, in the province of Idlib,” Efe news quoted the pontiff who was addressing a crowd at the Vatican during the Angelus prayer.

“I renew my appeal to the international community and to all the actors involved to use diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations in accordance with international humanitarian law to protect the lives of civilians,” he added.

The UN has also requested international parties involved in the Syrian civil war to do everything to prevent open warfare in Idlib, which is home to around three million people.

In recent years, the government of Bashar al-Assad has used Idlib province as a repository for rebel fighters and families evacuated from other regions of the country.