POPE Benedict today urged the international community to end what he called the endless slaughter in Syria before the entire country became a "a field of ruins."
He made the appeal in particularly strong terms during a yearly "state of the world" address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican.
He called for an "end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues, leaving behind it nothing but a field of ruins."
Benedict urged the diplomats from nearly 180 countries and world organisations to push their governments to do everything possible to face "this grave humanitarian situation".
" Civil and political authorities before all others have a grave responsibility to work for peace ," he told the envoys gathered in the Sala Regia of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
" They are the first called to resolve the numerous c onflicts causing bloodshed in our human family, beginning with that privileged region in God's p l an, the Middle East," he said in an address delivered in French.
The pope spoke a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected peace talks with his enemies in a defiant speech that his opponents described as a renewed declaration of war.