The statements from Russia's powerful orthodox Church came as Russia continued its air strikes in Syria. Head of the Church’s Public Affairs Department, Vsevolod Chaplin, told Interfax
The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it.The Russian Federation has made a responsible decision on the use of armed forces to defend the People of Syria from the sorrows caused by the arbitrariness of terrorists. Christians are suffering in the region with the kidnapping of clerics and the destruction of churches. Muslims are suffering no less.
He also said that a council representing Russia's main religions — Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism — will release a joint statement supporting the decision taken by Russian government to fight ISIS.
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.
Syrian opposition member, Bassam Jaara said
The Orthodox Church’s call for a holy war in Syria warrants a declaration of jihad. The Orthodox Church described Putin’s battle in Syria as ‘holy’, meaning a crusade war… A ‘holy’ war requires a call for jihad.