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SYRIA-VATICAN May-11-2012 (290 words) With photos posted May 10 and 11. xxxi

Vatican spokesman calls on nations to help Syria implement peace plan

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The international community must help bolster Syria's fragile peace plan, which risks unraveling in the wake of one of the deadliest attacks in 14 months of uprisings and conflict, the Vatican spokesman said.

Some 55 people were killed and more than 370 people injured after a two suicide car bombs exploded near a military compound in Damascus during early morning rush hour May 10.

The government blamed terrorists for the attack while the chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, blamed the government for the bombings, saying it was a tactic to keep people indoors and not demonstrating against the regime.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, expressed the Vatican's "strong condemnation and the heartfelt closeness of the Holy Father and the Catholic community to the families of the victims."

The written statement May 11 said the latest violence "should encourage all sides to boost and strengthen their commitment to implementing the Annan Peace Plan, which has been accepted by all sides in the conflict."

The attacks also show that outside help is needed, it said.

"The situation in Syria requires a firm and joint commitment on the part of the entire international community to implement that plan and, as soon as possible, to send further observers," Father Lombardi said in the statement.

According to the United Nations, as of May 11 there were 105 military observers scattered across major cities and flash points in Syria; the U.N. Mission was to expand and reinforce its presence in those locations.

Father Lombardi said the pope's Easter day appeal for Syria was "now more pressing than ever: it is necessary without delay to make 'an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation.'"


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