“Terrible news comes to us from Syria with dozens of victims, many of them women and children...so many people are struck by the effects of the chemical substances in the bombs,” Pope Francis said to a crowd of thousands in St Peter’s Square.
“There is not a good war and a bad one, and nothing, nothing can justify the use of such devices of extermination against defenseless people and populations,” the Pope added.
Located near Damascus, Douma is the last rebel-held stronghold. Following renewed airstrikes earlier this month, first-responders accused President Bashar al-Assad loyalists of using poisonous chlorine gas in the attacks which claimed the lives of more than 70 people - with speculation the death toll could rise to more than 100.
“Pray for political and military leaders to choose the other path - that of negotiation, the only one that can bring peace- that is not that of death and destruction,” Pope Francis urged.
As images and videos depicting men women and children having suffocated in their homes and on the street circulate on social media and the internet, the Syrian state media denies government forces launched a chemical attack in Douma. Instead, The Syrian state claims the reports were being circulated by rebels in Douma and were little more than fake news.
Pope Francis has been very vocal in his call for peace. Earlier this year, he called for an end to the violence and seven-year conflict in Syria, reminding the world that ‘Evil cannot be fought with evil.”
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out about the devastating situation in Syria. In addition to remaining outspoken about the need for peace and a resolution to the ongoing conflict, the Pontiff has helped dozens of Syrian refugees flee conflict, going so far as to bring many refugees home with him to Rome following a trip to the Greek Island of Lesbos in 2016.