Palestinian group says preparing to fight for Golan Heights

A picture taken from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights shows Syrian residents gathering near the boundary fence near the southern Syrian village of al-Rafide on 7 May 2013. (Photo: AFP - Menahem Kahana)

Published Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Palestinian nationalist organization in Damascus said it is forming combat units to try to reclaim territory occupied by Israel, in particular the Golan Heights, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah that they would support such operations.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) said it was preparing for new operations after nearly 40 years of quiet on the Israel-Syria border.

The group was most active in the 1970s and 80s but retains influence with Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon.

"The leadership of the PFLP-GC announces that it will form brigades to work on liberating all violated (occupied) territories, first and foremost the occupied Golan," it said in a statement late on Friday.

"The Popular Front's leaders have opened the door to all Syrian citizens to volunteer in the formation of the resistance."

Israel launched a series of air strikes around Damascus last week that inflamed tensions in the region.

Intelligence sources said Israel was trying to take out "game-changing" Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah.

Assad and his father, who ruled for 30 years before him, maintained calm in the Golan despite an official state of war between the two countries and Syria's support for the resistance in Lebanon and Gaza.

But following last week's strikes, which shook the Syrian capital and set its skyline alight with flames, Assad was quoted by state media as saying he would turn the Golan into a "resistance front" and would allow combatants to attack Israel from the area.

Hezbollah, which fought a bloody 34-day war with Israel in 2006 and is believed to coordinate with the PFLP-GC, turned up the rhetoric further by saying it would support any such operations.

"We announce that we stand with the Syrian popular resistance and offer material and spiritual support as well as coordination in order to liberate the Syrian Golan," Hezbollah secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Thursday.

The regions bordering the Golan Heights have already collapsed into disarray, with daily battles between state and rebels forces.

The Syrian war, which has killed more than 70,000 people, risks becoming increasingly regionalized, as the country's borders mark the faultlines of several Middle Eastern conflicts.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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