07:28 GMT22 October 2020
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    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)
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    The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, emphasized Moscow's role in counterterrorism fight in Syria and noted that Russian is not meddling in Syria's political affairs.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Russian forces have maintained "a remarkably honest" position by fighting terrorism in Syria while not meddling in the country's internal political affairs, Russia's Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said Tuesday.

    "We know that today, Russia's armed forces play a decisive role in fighting terrorism in Syria. They are not involved in the country's internal political struggles and are not offering any plans for political change that do not stem from the Syrian people's will. This is a remarkably honest and honorable position," the patriarch said during a service at the Antiochian metochion in Moscow.

    The Antiochian Orthodox Church, also known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church and is based in the Syrian capital of Damascus. It has a significant following in both Syria and Lebanon, with an over 500,000-strong population of Orthodox Christians in each country. Syria's Christian population has dwindled as a result of the displacement caused by the country's ongoing civil war.

    Both Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church since pre-Revolutionary times have been defenders of Christians living in the Middle East, Patriarch Kirill reminded.

    "Russia has again stood up to defend our brethren… This is the continuation of the great historic tradition which is based on love toward the Antiochian church and the Orthodox peoples of the Middle East," the patriarch said.

    Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting numerous opposition factions and Islamist extremist groups. Russia carried out an anti-terrorist aerial campaign between September and March, leaving a smaller number of troops to continue limited operations.

    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)


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