MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's powerful Orthodox Church on Wednesday, 30 September 2015, voiced support for Moscow's decision to carry out air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State group, calling it a "holy battle".
"The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it," said the head of the Church's public affairs department, Vsevolod Chaplin, quoted by Interfax news agency.
Chaplin explicitly said the Church backs Russia's decision to deploy its airforce in Syria to attack Islamic State.
"This decision corresponds with international law, the mentality of our people and the special role that our country has always played in the Middle East," Chaplin said.
Chaplin said a council representing Russia's main religions -- Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism -- would release a joint statement on Russia's role in Syria.
"In this statement, we will support the decision that was taken by our government," Chaplin said.
Russia's Orthodox Church, after years of repression under the Soviets, has regained much of its influence and built up close ties with the government despite a formal separation of Church and state. President Vladimir Putin is regularly depicted attending services.
Russia's Orthodox Church, after years of repression under the Communist rule is seen as a unifying force in Russian society during the Putin Era. Since his ascent to power, Putin has overseen the reconstruction or refurbishing of more than 23,000 Russian Orthodox churches destroyed under Soviet rule.
However, the statements from the church has sparked a wave of angry Arab responses and statements on social networking sites with some of them declaring a Jihad against Russia.