"--IANS/RIA Novosti"
Vatican City, Feb 12 - Pope Benedict XVI Sunday launched a fresh appeal to the Syrian authorities, urging them to address the demands of protesters and put an end to the months-long violence in the country.

It's urgent to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the different sections of the nation, as well as the auspices of the international community, the Pope told the crowd gathered in St Peter's Square for the traditional Sunday noon prayer.

I remember in prayer the victims, several of whom are children, the injured and all those who suffer the consequences of a increasingly worrying conflict, the Pope said.

Benedict said he was again inviting the political authorities in Syria to favour dialogue, reconciliation and a commitment to peace.

Meanwhile, Syrian authorities continue shelling the city of Homs. At least 52 people were killed by security forces Friday, said opposition activists.

Human rights groups say more than 7,000 people have died since the nationwide uprising began in March last year. The government says around 2,000 members of its security forces have been killed in the unrest.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

pm/vd


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