Pope appeals again for greater effort to bring peace in Syria

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.Tony Gentile/Reuters

The Pope has made another urgent appeal for peace in Syria, calling on the international community to spare no effort to bring all the parties in conflict to the negotiating table.

Speaking to the crowds gathered in St Peter's Square for his Angelus address, Pope Francis said he is following with great concern the "dramatic fate of the civilian population" who are "forced to abandon everything as they flee from the horrors of war."

He appealed for "generous solidarity" in order to provide for the needs of the refugees "to ensure their survival and dignity."

He said that only a political solution can guarantee "a future of reconciliation and peace for that dear and devastated nation."

He was speaking as further Russian assaults drove tens of thousands from Aleppo in Syria and shortly after talks between the Syrian government and opposition were temporarily suspended. It is believed that at least 250,000 people have been killed and 11 million displaced as a result of the conflict.

The Pope asked for prayers ahead of his apostolic trip to Mexico this week and for his historic meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

He also spoke of his aim to help victims of human trafficking "break the heavy chains of exploitation to regain their freedom and dignity." The Pope said: "We must do everything we can to destroy this crime and this unbearable disgrace."