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.
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.