2012-02-24 10:02:00

Russian diaspora increasingly threatened in Syria - Patriarch's representative

Damascus, February 24, Interfax - The Russian diaspora in Syria is in danger, said Archimandrite Alexander (Yelisov), the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia's representative before the Patriarch of Antioch.

The diaspora is facing increasing death threats "on the part of armed opposition forces and their religious inspirers represented by the radical Islamic clergy," the priest said at a meeting with the Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East, according to the representative office's website.

In my prayers I ask for representatives of all religions in Syria to live in peace and harmony, Father Alexander added.

Foreign intervention in Syrian affairs will lead to a civil war and the killing of civilians, the Russian Church said earlier.

"The recent passage, despite Russia's protests, by the United Nations General Assembly of a resolution aimed against the current Syrian government, opened up an opportunity to introduce foreign military forces to this country, as was the case in Libya. In this case, this could lead to a full-scale civil war that will last for many years and be accompanied by tens of thousands of innocent victims," head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion said during a lecture at the Moscow Spiritual Academy.

Foreign intervention will be associated by many Muslims with the Christian intervention, and local Christians, as was the case during the Crusades, "will have to answer for the aggressors' actions, sometimes with their own lives. Christians will become hostages and the first victims of such a military conflict," he said.

"Already one can talk about foreign military intervention in this country: thousands of militant extremists disguised as opposition forces started a civil war in this country. Groups of extremists, the so-called Jamaats, consisting of Wahabi militants armed and trained at the expense of foreign powers, are purposefully killing Christians," the hierarch said.