Syria war: Those bombing Aleppo must answer to God – Pope

POPE Francis has decried the bombing of Aleppo in Syria, saying those responsible for killing civilians will have to answer to God.
Speaking at a public audience in St Peter’s Square in Rome, he called it “an already martyred city, where everybody is dying”.
Russian-backed Syrian government forces have launched a fierce campaign to take control of rebel-held eastern areas.
Air strikes continued to hit the besieged districts overnight.
Pope Francis urged all sides to “commit themselves with all their strength to protect civilians”.
“This is an imperative and urgent obligation. I appeal to the consciences of those responsible for the bombings, who will one day will have to account to God,” he said.
Reports citing medical workers say that two major hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo were put out of service by air raids overnight.
But one activist in the city tells the BBC that the hospitals still appear to be operational.
In the past few days, pro-government forces have begun ground operations to try to recapture more territory from rebel forces. They have made advances in the city centre, reports say.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad and its Russian backers have been accused of war crimes and “barbarism” by the US and its Western allies, who back the rebels.
Moscow has vigorously denied the allegations and criticised their “unacceptable” rhetoric.
Separately, fresh allegations of chemical weapons use on the part of Syrian government have been made by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.
It said that Syrian government helicopters appeared to have used chemical weapons in two incidents in Aleppo on 10 August and 6 September that killed five people, including two children.
“After each attack, dozens of people suffering from a shortage of breath, coughing, reddened skin and eyes, and excessive tearing sought medical treatment in hospitals,” the group said.