Thursday, June 27, 2019 | ePaper

Syria slams Trump, vows to recover Israeli-occupied Golan

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An Israeli flag flutters over the wreckage of an Israeli tank overlooking the armistice line on the Golan Heights.

Reuters, Beirut :
Damascus condemned on Friday U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that it was time to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, vowing Syria would recover the area using "all available means".
Syria's allies Russia and Iran also upbraided Trump for the comment he made on Thursday, which marks a dramatic shift in U.S. policy over the status of a disputed area that was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 - a move not recognized internationally.
Syrian state news agency cited a foreign ministry source on Friday as saying Trump's statement showed "the blind bias of the United States" towards Israel.
It did not change "the reality that the Golan was and will remain Syrian, Arab," the source said.
"The Syrian nation is more determined to liberate this precious piece of Syrian national land through all available means," the source said, adding that Trump's statement was "irresponsible" and showed "contempt" for international law.
Iran said the statement was illegal and unacceptable, and Russia said a change in the status of the Golan Heights would be a direct violation of U.N. resolutions.
"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Both Iran and Russia have deployed forces into Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian conflict, with Iran sending both its own forces and also backing regional Shi'ite militias such as Lebanon's Hezbollah that have helped Damascus.
"This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria," an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman was cited as saying by state TV.
Netanyahu has pressed the United States to recognize its claim and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017. Trump's statement has given a boost to Netanyahu in the middle of his re-election campaign.
Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. The U.N. Security Council resolution 497, issued after the annexation, refers to Israel as "the occupying power" and says Israel's attempt to "impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect."
Damascus also said Trump's statement "clearly shows the U.S. disdain to the international legitimacy and violates its resolutions, especially Security Council resolution 497" while also threatening "international peace and stability."
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Trump's "personal and arbitrary decisions" plunge the region into a new crisis, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit also criticized the American stance, saying it "comes outside the international legitimacy and no country, no matter how important it is, can make such a decision."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Trump's "unfortunate" declaration has brought the region "to the brink of a new crisis and new tensions."
"We will never allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights," Erdogan added. Egypt also issued a statement, saying the Golan is occupied Arab territory and calling for respect for international resolutions.

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