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Pope Hopes For Peace In Yemen, Syria And Other Flashpoints

Written By Press Trust Of India | Mumbai | Published:

Pope Francis used his Christmas message Tuesday to appeal for peace in conflict zones such as Syria and Yemen, whose populations face some of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"My wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for the fraternity. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture. Fraternity among people with different ideas... Fraternity among persons of different religions," he said in his traditional "Urbi and Orbi" (To the City and to the World) address in Saint Peter's Square.

The pontiff said he hoped a truce in conflict-ravaged Yemen would end a devastating war which has killed around 10,000 people since 2015 and pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine.

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"My thoughts turn to Yemen, in the hope that the truce brokered by the international community may finally bring relief to all those children and people exhausted by war and famine," he said.

The Pope also evoked the war in Syria, from where US President Donald Trump has decided to pull out some 2,000 troops in a controversial decision, arguing that the Islamic State has been defeated.

"May the international community work decisively for a political solution... so that the Syrian people, especially all those who were forced to leave their own lands and seek refuge elsewhere, can return to live in peace in their own country," he said.

He also said he hoped for renewed peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians "that can put an end to a conflict that for over 70 years has rent the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love."  

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This year, Syria celebrated Christmas for the first time ever since the Arab Spring in 2011 that unleashed the war in the country. The capital city of Syria, Damascus was dolled up with bells jingling around the city and aesthetics of Christmas put on display. 

Damascus lit up its tallest Christmas tree in Abbasid Square to commemorate the occasion. Christmas music was echoed in the city, accompanied by a parade that presented gifts to children and people walking around.