Syria has notified Israel through United Nations diplomatic channels that it is prepared to go to war if Israel does not leave the Golan Heights.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad reportedly sent the message through the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), Christine Lund, which said tersely: “Syria will attack Israel if it does not leave the Golan Heights.”
Mikdad further warned Lund that Syria will respond with force should Israel continue its attacks on Syria, which have occurred more than a dozen times over the past year, but which seem to have recently paused following Russia's announced delivery of the advanced S-300 anti-air missile defense system to Damascus late last year.
“We will not hesitate to confront Israel,” Syria's Mekdad said. “We are also not scared away by its [Israel’s] supporters who are helping to perpetuate the occupation of the Golan,” he added.
Damascus' firm warning appears a response to a controversial bill recently under renewed consideration by US Congress, co-sponsored by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, and Democratic Rep. Mike Gallagher, which aims to give formal US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights region.
Meanwhile, multiple Israeli political leaders have responded to Syria's historic claim to the Israeli-occupied Golan and willingness to go to war over it. While speaking on a visit to the Golan Heights, Blue and White party politicians Gabi Ashkenazi, Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya'alon vowed, "It is ours and it will stay ours" — certainly a dominant sentiment that cuts across Israeli party lines.