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Israel Does Not Exclude Establishment of Ties With Syria's Assad – Lieberman

Late last week, the Israeli military hit Syrian Army positions near the Golan Heights in retaliation following a rogue shell that landed east of the fence in the disputed Israeli-Palestinian territory.

During a visit to the disputed Golan Heights on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, in particular, that he does not exclude a thaw in ties between Tel Aviv and Damascus.

"I reckon we are a long way from that, but we are not ruling out anything," Lieberman said when asked whether the two countries will be able to establish "some kind of relationship."

READ MORE: Israel 'Wants to Make Point That Its Presence in Golan Heights Permanent' – Prof

At the same time, he pledged to respond harshly to any attempts by the Syrian military to enter the demilitarized area in the Golan Heights.

"For our part, we will sanctify the 1974 disengagement agreement and there too we will insist that every last letter be abided by, and any violation will meet a harsh response from the State of Israel," Lieberman pointed out.

© AFP 2022 / JALAA MAREYGolan Heights. File photo
Golan Heights. File photo  - Sputnik International
Golan Heights. File photo

He also warned against "the Iranian presence in Syria", vowing that the Israeli military would retaliate "with force" against any terrorist infrastructure that it identifies in the region.

READ MORE: Netanyahu Ally Urges US to Recognize Israel's Golan Heights Claim – Reports

"We're warning those organizations associated with Iranian militias that try to establish a terror network in the Golan Heights. It’s unacceptable, and we will act against any terror network in the area," Lieberman underlined.

His remarks came a few days after an Israeli military aircraft targeted Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights when a rogue shell fell between Israeli-controlled and Syrian government-held territories.  According to a statement by the Israeli Defense Forces, the shell was launched during fighting between Syrian government forces and militant groups in the area.

READ MORE: Israel Launches 'Surprise' Military Exercise in Golan Heights – Defense Forces

In separate development on July 8, Syrian air defense forces repulsed a missile strike that targeted the Tiyas military air base, which is reportedly used by Iranian forces.

According to the media, missiles at the base in Homs were launched from Israel. However, the Israeli defense minister said that he was unaware of the attack and "only read about it in a newspaper."

READ MORE: Israel to Boost Golan Heights' Population, Development Amid 'Security Danger'

Tel Aviv claims the right to open fire on any military target on Syrian territory which it considers to be violating the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria.

In April 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially admitted for the first time that the regime's military had conducted strikes on Syrian territory.

READ MORE: Israel's Forces Target Syrian Artillery After Mortar Fire Near Golan Heights

Israel has repeatedly stated that it is vital to maintain control over the Golan, citing the threat emanating from Iran and Syria.

An Israeli soldier walks as a mobile artillery piece is seen deployed in the background near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Syrian Golan Heights on July 1, 2018 - Sputnik International
WATCH: Israeli Army Reinforces Positions Near Golan Heights Border With Syria
Damascus, in turn, claims that Israel and its allies are supporting the terrorist groups fighting in Syria by conducting strikes on Syrian soil and setting up hospitals for militants evacuated from the theater of war. In addition, the Syrian Army has repeatedly seized large amounts of Israeli-made weapons and military equipment from the terrorists.

The Golan Heights were seized and then occupied by Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War, in what was recognized neither by the international community nor the UN Security Council.

Israel and Syria still remain officially at war as a result of this conflict and the lack of formal bilateral diplomatic relations. 

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