Syria vows to recapture Golan from Israel ‘by all means’

As protests against US recognition of Israeli sovereignty continue across war-torn country, FM Muallem promises to ‘liberate every inch’ of its territories

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

A member of the Syrian security forces walks near the border post with Israel in the Syrian town of Quneitra in the Golan Heights on March 26, 2019. (Louai Beshara/AFP)
A member of the Syrian security forces walks near the border post with Israel in the Syrian town of Quneitra in the Golan Heights on March 26, 2019. (Louai Beshara/AFP)

Syria will not shy away from using force to reconquer “every inch” of the Golan Heights, the country’s foreign minister threatened Thursday.

“Syria will liberate the occupied Golan by all means and all choices are on the table,” Walid Muallem said at a press conference in Damascus alongside his Venezuelan counterpart.

“US President Donald Trump’s decision on the occupied Syrian Golan has a single effect, as it only enhanced the US isolation,” he said. “Our right in the occupied Syrian Golan is firm and can’t be denied by the passage of time, and every inch of the occupied Syrian territories will be liberated.”

On March 25, Trump signed a presidential declaration formally recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, standing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel captured the strategically important high plateau during the 1967 Six Day Way and extended its laws over the territory in 1980, a move that was condemned at the time by the international community, including the US.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. (AFP PHOTO/ANGELA WEISS)

“We have will and determination and our war since 2011 is to protect Syria’s sovereignty and independence and to liberate every inch of its territories,” Muallem said.

“Our war on terrorism hasn’t stopped and the conspiracy against us is continued through the military assault and the economic siege with the aim of prolonging the crisis in Syria in the interest of ‘Israel,'” he said, according to the state-owned SANA news agency.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a Golan Heights proclamation outside the West Wing after a meeting at the White House on March 25, 2019, in Washington. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

The Syrian minister also chastised the Arab world for what he hinted was a weak response to Trump’s Golan declaration, noting that London’s condemnation was stronger than the one issued by the Arab League.

“Is it possible that the Arab Summit issues a statement on the occupied Syrian Golan that is weaker than Britain’s stance?” he asked.

On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “a matter of the greatest regret that our allies, the United States, are in clear contravention of UN [Security Council] Resolution 497.”

That resolution, passed unanimously in 1980, declared Israel’s de facto annexation of the Golan “null and void.”

“We should never recognize the annexation of territory by force,” Hunt said, noting, at the same time, that Israel in “an ally and a shining example of democracy in a part of the world where that is not common.”

Also on Thursday, protesters in several parts of Syria continued to take to the streets to demonstrate against the US recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory, SANA reported.

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