Operation of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in Syria helped to protect the Christian minority from persecution and killings, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said in his Christmas interview with the Rossiya-1 TV channel.
“Besides solving some issues… linked to stabilizing the situation, preventing military threats and preventing the takeover of power by terrorists… there was a very important idea in Russia’s participation – to protect the Christian minority. Thanks to Russia’s participation, the genocide of Christians was thwarted,” the Patriarch said.
According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, if the Islamist forces had maintained their influence and activity, the situation in Syria would have repeated the Iraqi scenario after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
“During Hussein’s regime, I visited Iraq and its northern areas, and I was in Mosul. I visited ancient Christian monasteries. I saw this pietism of people and was glad that Christian churches calmly exist in the Muslim environment. Now almost nothing has been left. The monasteries have been destroyed and the churches have been blown up. 85% of Christians have been either eliminated or expelled from Iraq’s territory and this could have happened in Syria,” he said.
The Patriarch noted that both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church will continue the effort to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrians. “We also have bilateral agreements with the Catholic Church to provide humanitarian assistance together. There are different areas in which we are acting. I hope they will make their contribution to providing real assistance to those who are still suffering in Syria,” he said.