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Syria rejects Blinken’s remarks on occupied Golan Heights

The photo shows part of an Israel military drill near Kibbutz Merom Golan in the occupied Golan Heights on June 9, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Syria has categorically rejected remarks by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, reiterating that the land was and will remain a “Syrian Arab” territory.

“The Syrian Arab Republic absolutely rejects the statements of the US Secretary of State regarding the occupied Syrian Golan which come in the context of the persistent American support for the Israeli occupation entity and its ongoing aggression,” a source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry told Syria's official news agency SANA on Wednesday.

Asked whether the administration of US President Joe Biden recognizes Israeli “sovereignty” over Golan, Blinken said “as a practical matter, Israel has control of the Golan Heights, irrespective of its legal status, and that will have to remain unless and until things get to a point where Syria and everything operating out from Syria no longer poses a threat to Israel, and we are not anywhere near that.”

Blinken made the remarks during a hearing of a US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday.

In 2019, then US President Donald Trump formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Heights.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry source said it had become “clear to the whole world that the usurping Israeli entity and its policy of expansion and aggression are the main reason of the tensions and instability in the region.” Israel, the source added, poses “a serious threat” to regional and international security.

The source also emphasized that the Syrian nation has “a legitimate right” to resist Israel’s expansionist behavior.

In 1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1973, another war broke out and a year later, a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Heights.

Israel has over the past decades built dozens of settlements in the Golan Heights in defiance of international calls for the regime to stop its illegal construction activities.

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

The United Nations emphasizes Syria's sovereignty over the territory.

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