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Pope Francis calls for respect for humanitarian law in Idlib, Syria

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Pope Francis called on Sunday for respect for humanitarian law in Syria’s Idlib governorate amid an escalation of an attack by the Syrian government that has displaced more than a million people in two months.

The Pope told tens of thousands of people in Saint Peter’s Square that the reports from Idlib were “painful … especially regarding the conditions of women and children and those forced to flee because of the military escalation”.

Turkey has strengthened its military presence in the region, saying the advance of Russian-backed and Russian-backed Syrian forces threatens a new humanitarian crisis.

The crisis threatens to launch a new wave of displaced people to Turkey’s southern borders and Ankara has threatened to take action unless those forces withdraw.

“I renew my sincere appeal to the international community and all parties concerned to use diplomatic means, dialogue and negotiations, in relation to international humanitarian law, to protect the lives and fate of civilians,” Pope Francis said.

Then the Pope led the crowd in a special prayer “for the beloved martyr Syria.”

Turkey and Russia have been supporting two warring parties in the civil war that has been going on in Syria for nearly nine years, but they have concluded a series of agreements since 2017 aimed at stopping the bloodshed.

Turkey has already received 3.6 million Syrian refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened over the past few days to confront the Syrian-backed Syrian forces unless they withdraw from the region.

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