Syrians on the border with Israel plan to set up an “integrated” front to fight Israel, a Syrian official was quoted telling Iranian media Sunday.
The official, from a local government in the Quneitra region on the Syrian Golan bordering Israel, told Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency that groups would soon start working against Israel on the plateau, captured by Israel in 1967.
“We will see the integration of popular resistance in both the free and occupied territories of the Golan Heights,” Ra’afat al-Bokar told Fars.
“I confidently say that the people have and will never halt their resistance; we will soon witness integrated efforts by popular resistance forces throughout the Golan Heights against Israel,” al-Bokar said.
Israeli officials have remained wary of efforts to strike Israel — both by Islamist rebels, who control some border areas; and Iranian-backed militias, operating under the aegis of Damascus.
Last week, Hezbollah operative Samir Kuntar, who was leading efforts to launch attacks at Israel from the Golan, was killed, reportedly in an Israeli airstrike.
Other reported Israeli airstrikes have also targeted Iranian and Hezbollah figures said to be setting up bases to attack Israel.
Israel claims the western Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and took steps to formally annex in 1981 — a move never recognized by the international community.
The plateau is considered a critical strategic asset for Israel because it overlooks the towns and villages of much of the Galilee, but Syria has maintained its claim to the region.
Quneitra is a Syrian town that lies along the border between Israel and Syria and which was abandoned after the 1973 war between Israel and Syria.
The area between Israel and Syria is patrolled by a UN peacekeeping force, which has mostly kept the border calm since 1973, though peacekeepers have sometimes been caught amid internecine fighting in Syria.
The Israeli side of the Golan Heights has four Druze towns. Many of the residents feel they are Syrians, and maintain connections with their brethren over the border, who made up about 5 percent of Syria’s prewar population of 23 million people.
Officials say there are 110,000 Druze in northern Israel, and another 20,000 in the Israeli Golan.