U.S. Drops 'Occupied,' Refers to Golan Heights as 'Israeli-Controlled'

Hizbollah commander captured by UK special forces resurfaces in southern Syria, Israeli military says

The recent report, which refers to the "Israeli-controlled" Golan Heights, is likely to win praise from Tel Aviv and draw condemnation from Damascus, which seeks to retake the territory it lost in 1967.

Israel has said it is prepared to see the Assad regime resume full control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights but will not tolerate Hizbollah or Iranian forces in the area. "It does Iran's bidding, and this terror network is part of Iran's aggression against Israel".

Hezbollah, based in neighbouring Lebanon, has also been supporting Assad in Syria's civil war.

The army said the unit was in the establishment and recruitment stage and was not yet operational. "It is meant to eventually control teams of Syrian operatives who will launch attacks against Israel", said the IDF in a statement.

"These operatives have been attempting to establish an additional terrorist front against Israel and destabilize the region over the past year", said Brig.

Hezbollah began establishing it in the summer of 2018, it said. These operations largely ended in early 2015 following an airstrike, attributed to Israel, that killed senior terrorist leader Jihad Mughniyeh as he visited the Syrian Golan along with a number of other senior Hezbollah members. After being released in 2012, he returned to Lebanon as part of a deal negotiated between Hezbollah and the Iraqi government at the time.

Some have had training in sabotage, sharpshooting and firing Grad rockets, it said in a statement.

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"So I have a clear message for Iran and for Hezbollah: Israel knows what you're doing; Israel knows where you're doing it".

Netanyahu travels to Washington later this month to address the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, and Israeli media reports said he also plans to hold talks with Trump, with the Golan recognition issue on the agenda.

It has pledged to stop its main enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily there, carrying out hundreds of air strikes against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz dismissed such suggestions.

Worldwide law does not recognise Israel's hold on those territories and considers Israel's expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. Lindsey Graham, an influential U.S. senator allied to President Donald Trump, toured the Golan with Netanyahu this week and vowed to work to have Washington recognise it as part of Israel "now and forever".

The move came amid intensified efforts by Israel to win USA recognition of its claim to sovereignty over the strategic plateau it captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and effectively annexed in 1981, a step not recognized internationally.

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