Syrian officials threatened on Saturday to take back the Golan Heights by force if a peace agreement involving the return of the strategic plateau is not reached with Israel, Army Radio reported.

A group calling itself the Syrian Committee for the Freedom of the Golan said it would take steps to regain control of the territory, adding that Israel has not shown willingness to achieve peace or to return what they called "Syrian land."

The comments were made at the inauguration ceremony, attended by Syrian President Bashar Assad, for a new communications center in Quneitra.

"The communications center will report on the troubles of Syrian residents residing in the occupied Golan under barbaric and racist Israeli rule," Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal was quoted as saying at the ceremony, in a reference to Druze in the Golan who wish to live under Syrian sovereignty.

Last Sunday, Assad rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to resume peace talks between the two countries from "point zero."

Assad said the negotiations should resume from the point at which they stopped under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, when the two sides had planned to formulate mutual commitments that would enable the talks to move to a direct negotiations stage.

The indirect negotiations stopped some six months ago, following Operation Cast Lead, and the announcement of early elections in Israel.

Israel gained control of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War. Syria insists that the basis for peace talks with Israel is a full withdrawal from the territory.