Syria Vows to Recover Golan Heights; Russia: Trump's Recognition Violates UN Resolutions

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei welcomes Syrian President Bashar Assad in Tehran, Iran, February 25, 2019.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei welcomes Syrian President Bashar Assad in Tehran, Iran, February 25, 2019.Credit: ,AP

Syria slammed U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights as "irresponsible" on Friday morning, saying that it confirms "the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity," referring to Israel.

In a statement published by the Syrian state news agency, a senior foreign ministry source said Syria was determined to recover the area "through all available means." The source added that Trump's statement won't change "the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian."

>> Read more: How secret Netanyahu-Assad backchannel gave way to Israeli demand for Golan recognition ■ Amos Harel: Trump's declaration is blessing for Netanyahu, message to Russia ■ Anshel Pfeffer: Trump's bombshell was bound to drop. But why now?

Russia's Foreign Ministry also responded Friday morning, saying that a change in the status of the Golan Heights would be a direct violation of United Nations decisions, RIA news agency said in a report citing ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Trump's statement has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis. "We cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights," Erdogan added, speaking at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, meanwhile, said Trump's declaration is illegal and unacceptable. "This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria," spokesman Bahram Qasemi said, cited by state TV.

Trump took to Twitter on Thursday evening to state that it was time the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory it occupied in the 1967 war. 

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty [sic] over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability [sic]!''

Fox News, the right-wing channel known for backing Trump, reported on Thursday night that his support for recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights will become official next week, when he will sign an executive order, likely during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington.

Trump's announcement came after a surprising move by the State Department last week, when it opted to scrap the word "occupied" when referring to the Golan Heights in its annual human rights report for 2018.

The change, which now reads "Israeli-controlled territory," strays from the language used by previous administrations.

A separate section on the West Bank and Gaza Strip also did not refer to those territories as being "occupied" or under "occupation."

The timing of the announcement coincides with an accelerated election campaign in Israel, whose citizens are slated to cast their votes in the ballot on April 9.

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