Pope Seeks Talks to Avert Syria ‘Catastrophe’

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Idlib area have nowhere to flee

Pope Francis addresses a gathering during the Festival of Families in Dublin, Ireland August 25, 2018.
Tiziana Fabi / AFP

Pope Francis is pressing for negotiations to avoid a “humanitarian catastrophe” from a looming battle in Syria.

Francis appealed on Sunday to the international community and “all the actors involved” to use diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations “in respect for international humanitarian law and to safeguard the lives of civilians.”

Addressing faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said “the winds of war are still blowing and troubling news reaches us about the risks of a possible humanitarian catastrophe” in Syria’s Idlib province.

That’s where Syrian opposition forces have dug trenches around their bases, anticipating a ground offensive on their last major stronghold. The battle for Idlib might be the last in seven years of civil war.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Idlib area have nowhere to flee.