2013-09-11 10:00:00

Patriarch Kirill urges Obama to scrap plans to strike Syria

Moscow, September 11, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has forwarded a message to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to drop the plans to launch a military operation against Syria.

"The Russian Orthodox Church knows the price of human sufferings and losses since in the 20th century our people survived two devastating world wars which claimed millions of lives and ruined many people's lives. We also regard as our own pain the pain and losses the American people suffered in the terrible terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001," Patriarch Kirill said in his message to Obama.

"On the eve of the anniversary of that sad date, I appeal to you to lend your ear to the voices of religious leaders who unanimously oppose any military interference in the Syrian conflict and to make every effort for the soonest commencement of peace negotiations," he said.

"Syria today has become an arena of the armed conflict. Engaged in it are foreign mercenaries and militants linked with international terrorist centers. The war has become an everyday Golgotha for millions of civilians," he said.

"We were deeply alarmed to learn about the plans of the U.S. army to strike the territory of Syria. Undoubtedly, it will bring ever greater sufferings to the Syrian people, first of all, to the civilian population. An external military intervention may result in the radical forces coming to power in Syria who will not be able and will not wish to ensure inter-confessional accord in the Syrian society," he said.

The patriarch expressed his special concern "for the fate of the Christian population of Syria, which in that case will come under the threat of total extermination or banishment."

The patriarch insisted that the ongoing crisis in Syria calls for the international community's involvement to be settled.

"In this regard, I consider it important to use the opportunities which have opened for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict. These opportunities imply the international community's control over the chemical weapons in Syria," he said.