Syria risks descending into a full-blown conflict which would affect the entire region, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday as he called on the international community to act.
“There should not be any effort spared, by the international community as well, in getting Syria out of the current situation of violence and crisis, which has already gone on for a long time,” he said.
The unrest “risks becoming a widespread conflict which would have very negative consequences for the country and whole region,” he added.
The 15-month conflict in Syria is spiraling to new heights, and last week the Vatican’s ambassador to the Middle East country said the country has “started its descent into hell.”
In his address, Benedict repeated an appeal he made in April for an end to bloodshed, and urgent humanitarian assistance for those in need.
“I send out an urgent and concerned appeal that the necessary humanitarian assistance be given to a population in extreme need, as well as those who have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in nearby countries,” he said.
The pontiff offered prayers for those living their darkest moments and said he hoped God’s knowledge would enlighten the hearts of those committing atrocities “to bring an end to all bloodshed and violence.”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, violence has killed more than 15,000 people in Syria since a revolt erupted last year against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
United Nations officials say they fear a full-blown civil war in Syria. While the European Union has imposed sanctions on the conflict-struck country, refugees have said they are angry the West has not backed a military intervention.