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Pope Urges Greater Efforts for Peace in the Middle East

Vatican Pope Syria: Pope Francis shakes hands with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, as they meet at the Vatican Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, prior to a conference on the situation in Syria and Iraq held by Catholic charities operating in those regions.

Pope Francis is urging the world not to look the other way from war and suffering in the Middle East and appealed to leaders "for greater and renewed efforts to achieve peace throughout the Middle East."

The pope made the remarks Thursday during an audience with Catholic charity workers helping to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Iraq and neighboring countries. Also present was the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

The pope remarked that despite great efforts in the last year "the logic of arms and oppression, hidden interests and violence continues to wreak devastation."

Francis has kept the war in Syria at the center of his attention, condemning on Wednesday airstrikes in Aleppo that have followed the collapse of a cease-fire deal.