The pope has called on world leaders to stop funding the Syrian war, stating that a military solution will not result in peace for the war-torn nation.
In a video message published Tuesday by the Vatican, Pope Francis criticizes those who “talk of peace” yet spend large amounts of money supplying weapons to fighters.
“How can you believe in someone who caresses you with the right hand and strikes you with the left hand?” he accuses.
Though no countries were named, President Bashar al-Assad’s government is reportedly receiving military and other help from Russia and Iran. Several opposition groups are backed by Sunni Muslim regional powers and the West.
The pope goes on to express support for peace talks and the formation of a united government.
“Everyone has to recognise that there is no military solution for Syria, but only a political solution,” he says.
The pontiff’s message accompanies the new campaign “Syria: peace is possible,” launched by Catholic charity organisation Caritas Internationalis, which calls for an immediate end to the violence and suffering in the country.
Since the conflict began in 2011, more than 270,000 Syrians are estimated to have died, while over 4.6 million refugees have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
It is also estimated that an additional 8 million Syrians are internally displaced due to the ongoing conflict.