Damascus reserves right to retake occupied Golan Heights by any means: Official
A Syrian official says Damascus reserves the right to re-establish control over the Golan Heights, which the Israeli regime has been occupying for more than half a century, stating that a military option to regain the area could not be ruled out.
“The Golan Heights is an integral part of the Syrian territory. We have the right to return this land at any time and by any means, which we consider necessary. In my opinion, the only language, which Israel understands is the language of force and resistance,” the director of the Golan Heights Department in the Syrian government, Midhat Saleh, told Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Thursday.
Saleh then hoped that the international community would come up with an effective mechanism to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights.
“We are now at war with Israel, and we have the right since Israel does not recognize international resolutions and UN Security Council resolutions, and the United States supports Israel in this case.
“We have the right to return the Golan Heights in the most befitting way for us, either through war or popular resistance. This is our right guaranteed by international resolutions,” the official said.
Saleh further noted that all decisions and resolutions on the occupied Golan Heights had not been implemented for more than 50 years, and had simply remained on paper.
He went on to say that over half a million people had been displaced from their original homes in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and were now living in other parts of Syria, while only 26,000 Syrians were still living in the territory.
On March 25, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.
The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement, called the US decision a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.
“The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right,” according to the statement carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA, which added, “The decision … makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.”
The Arab League also condemned the move, saying “Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.”
Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey also condemned the US move.
In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed “shock” at Trump’s move and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said “this illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it (the Golan Heights) belongs to Syria.”
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also said on Twitter that the US plan “contravenes international law.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also said that Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights annexation “violates the UN Charter.”
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was impossible for Turkey to accept the US decision on the Golan Heights.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.