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Vatican ambassador: World must help end Syria crisis

People rest in a mosque after an alleged chemical attack by Syrian forces in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus on Wednesday (CNS)

The Vatican ambassador to Syria said the international community must help find a political solution to the “serious crisis” continuing in the country.

Speaking to Vatican Radio on Wednesday after alleged chemical attacks outside Damascus, Archbishop Mario Zenari described the images circulating on the internet and television as “truly shocking.”

The images, which could not be immediately verified, triggered calls for an independent investigation. Syrian opposition forces said more than 1,000 people died in the attacks; other activists put the number in the hundreds.

Syrian state television denied government forces had used poison gas and said the accusations were intended to distract a team of United Nations (UN) chemical weapons experts currently in Syria. The UN scheduled a special meeting that afternoon to discuss the incident.

“People here are fed up with the war,” Archbishop Zenari said. “They are crying out to the international community to say, ‘Help us so that this war would end immediately. We have had enough; we can’t take it anymore. We can’t continue like this.'”

In late July, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said more than 100,000 people had been killed in the Syrian civil war, which began in March, 2011. More than 1.7 million people are estimated to have fled to neighbouring countries since the start of the conflict.