Pope calls for immediate halt to 'inhuman' Syria violence
Pope Francis denounced "inhuman" violence in Syria and called for an immediate end to violence to allow aid deliveries, especially in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta which has been hit by regime bombardment.
Francis led thousands of people in St Peter's Square in praying on Sunday for an "immediate" end to hostilities.
"The month of February has been one of the most violent in seven years of conflict: hundreds, thousands of civilian victims, children, women and the elderly, hospitals have been hit, people can't get food. All this is inhuman," he said.
"I therefore issue an urgent appeal for an immediate halt to violence to allow access to humanitarian aid - food and medicines - and the evacuation of the wounded and sick".
New airstrikes hit Eastern Ghouta on Saturday raising the civilian death toll from seven days of intense bombardment to over 500 including more than 120 children, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
MSF has warned that doctors and nurses are collapsing in Eastern Ghouta's hospitals as they reach the brink of their physical capacity after working solidly to provide treatment to thousands of people injured in the relentless siege.
A spokesman for Jaish al-Islam rebel group said that pro-regime militias have attempted to storm Eastern Ghouta during pitched battles with fighters from the group.
The UN Security Council unanimously demanded a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.
But the proposal will not apply to "individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated" with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group and the Syrian regime has already breached the ceasefire.