The battle against terrorism is a "holy war," Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said Friday during a religious service marking the feast of St. George, the patron saint of Moscow and the Russian army.

"Today our warriors take part in combat in the Middle East, and it is not aggression or occupation, it is not the imposition of an ideology or support for certain governments, it is a struggle against a terrible enemy ... terrorism," Kirill said in his homily.

The patriarch was referring to Russian military personnel deployed in Syria to fight Islamic State.

"So the war against terrorism is a holy war," he said. "May it be God's will that this is understood all around the world, that nobody separates terrorists into good ones and bad ones, that nobody links the war against terrorism with the attainment of goals that are not declared but are present in political calculations."

Only in that way "will the war against that enemy, conducted by honest means, also be a holy war," he said.

Kirill said the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is known in Russia, was a holy war because Russian soldiers were defending their people against "a crafty and cruel foe."

"Let us pray that our nation's armed forces always and in all circumstances remain faithful to the spiritual principle guiding their participation only in the fight against evil, the fight for justice, and the protection of human life," Patriarch Kirill said.