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Pope calls for end to illegal arms traffic

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis called on Sunday for an end to the illegal traffic in arms, and repeated his appeal for peace in Syria.

"The war against evil means saying no a fratricidal hatred and the lies which feed it, saying no to violence in all its forms, saying no to the proliferation of arms and the illegal trade in arms," he said in his regular Sunday Angelus.

"There is so much of it. And there is always the doubt whether these wars here or there are wars for real problems or wars to sell arms," he said.

"There is a commercial war to sell these weapons in illegal trade. These are enemies to be fought - together and united, following no other interests than those of peace and the common good."

The call came hours after Francis addressed an estimated 100,000 people in St Peter's Square in a day of fasting and prayer aimed at encouraging peace in Syria.

"The violence and devastation in Syria should stop immediately and we should work with renewed commitment for a just solution to this fratricidal conflict," he said on Sunday, calling for peace in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon as well.

The appeals for peace come as the United States and France consider military action to punish Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad over a chemical weapons attack near Damascus that killed hundreds of people. Western countries blame Assad for the attack although the Syrian government denies responsibility. (Reporting By James Mackenzie; editing by Mike Collett-White)