VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has issued an urgent appeal for an end to "all violence and bloodshed" in Syria.
The pope in his traditional Sunday Angelus prayer called for all parties, including the international community, to spare no effort in seeking peace and a political settlement to the conflict.
Speaking from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Benedict says he continues "to follow with concern the growing and tragic episodes of violence in Syria."
Benedict has spoken out multiple times on the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 as a popular uprising but has since turned into a civil war.
Human rights observers estimate more than 19,000 people have died as the Syrian regime has cracked down on protesters and armed rebels.