Speaking at his General Audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis departed from his prepared notes to denounce the air strikes.

“Those responsible for bombing Aleppo to death and destruction will be “accountable to God” for their actions” he said.

He appealed once again for peace in Aleppo, where 18 people were killed yesterday and 88 injured as the relentless bombing put two more hospitals out of action.

Syria said this morning there will be more air strikes in Aleppo and nearby areas as government forces seek to rid the city of rebel fighters.

Pope Francis said: “Dramatic news continues to reach me concerning the fate of the people of Aleppo, with whom, through prayer and spiritual closeness, I feel united in suffering.”

He added: “In expressing my deep sorrow and lively concern for what is happening in that already battered city, where children, the elderly, the sick, young and old, all are dying, I renew my appeal to everyone to commit themselves with all their strength to the protection of civilians as an imperative and urgent obligation.”

He warned that those responsible will be “accountable to God” for their actions.

In his prepared teaching, the Pope spoke about forgiveness.

He quoted Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Pope Francis said: “It is precisely by remaining on the Cross that Jesus offers salvation to every person regardless of their situation.”

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