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Pope horrified by 'unacceptable massacre' in Syria


  • Pope Francis embraces a girl during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 5. The pope strongly condemned a chemical attack in Syria the previous day that left 70 people dead. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 5. The pope strongly condemned a chemical attack in Syria the previous day that left 70 people dead. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 5. The pope strongly condemned a chemical attack in Syria the previous day that left 70 people dead. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • A child receives treatment inside a field hospital in Idlib, Syria, after April 3 airstrikes. A suspected chemical attack in a town in Syria's rebel-held northern Idlib province killed dozens of people April 3, opposition activists said. (CNS photo/handout via EPA)
  • Pope Francis kisses a Marian statue presented by someone in the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 5. The pope strongly condemned a chemical attack in Syria the previous day that left 70 people dead. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • An injured person is carried by firefighters outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station following an April 3 explosion in St. Petersburg, Russia. The St. Petersburg metro attack, which killed at least 11 people and wounded dozens more, was carried out by a suicide bomber, said Russian authorities. (CNS photo/Anton Vaganov, Reuters)
  • A child receives treatment inside a field hospital in Idlib, Syria, after an April 4 chemical attack. Pope Francis strongly condemned the attack, which left more than 70 people, including at least 10 children, dead. (CNS photo/EPA)
  • A man carries the body of a dead child April 4, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in Idlib, Syria. Pope Francis strongly condemned the attack, which left more than 70 people, including at least 10 children, dead. (CNS photo/Ammar Abdullah, Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis strongly condemned a shocking chemical attack in Syria that left some 70 people, including at least 10 children, dead.

"We are horrified by the latest events in Syria. I strongly deplore the unacceptable massacre that took place yesterday in the Idlib province, where dozens of civilians, including many children, were killed," the pope said April 5 before concluding his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Images of dead men, women and children lying on the streets provoked international outrage following the attack April 4 in a rebel-held area.

Western leaders have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad and the country's military of perpetrating the attack, based on reports that warplanes dropped chemical bombs in the early morning.

According to The New York Times, the Syrian military denied attacking the town and said the attack was caused by insurgents who blame the Syrian government for similar attacks "every time they fail to achieve the goals of their sponsors."

Pope Francis encouraged those helping with relief efforts in Idlib province, and he appealed to world leaders to put an end to the violence.

"I appeal to the conscience of those who have political responsibility at the local and international level, so that this tragedy may come to an end and relief may come to that beloved population who for too long have been devastated by war," the pope said.

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