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US Calls on Russia to Compel Syrians to Leave Area Near Golan Heights - Envoy

© REUTERS / Ammar AwadA general view of the Israeli-Syrian border is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
A general view of the Israeli-Syrian border is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is urging Russia to compel the Syrian government to pull out from an area of separation near the Golan Heights, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the United States Mission to the United Nations Rodney Hunter told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

"The United States and this Council cannot accept Syria's efforts to establish its presence in the area of separation as a new norm", Hunter said. "Therefore, the United States calls on the Russian Federation to use its influence with the Assad regime to compel the Syrian forces to uphold their commitment to the disengagement of forces agreement and immediately withdraw from the area of separation".

READ MORE: UNSC Holds Meeting on Syria Amid US Recognition of Golan Heights

On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation formally recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The document, which has been widely regarded as the way of propelling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election bid ahead of the 9 April parliamentary vote, has already been condemned by Iran, Russia, Syria, Turkey and other countries.

Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade take part in a military exercise in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights near the border with Syria on June 26, 2013 - Sputnik International
Islamabad Says Shares 'International Outrage' Over US Decision on Golan Heights
US major allies, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, have similarly refused to back the US U-turn on the Golan, which runs against the UN Security Council resolutions.

The Golan Heights, a strategically important area due to its water resources among other reasons, has been mostly under Israel's control since the country seized the area during the 1967 Six-Day War. When Israel adopted a law that effectively annexed the territory back in 1981, the United Nations unanimously declared that it was "null and void and without international legal effect". In 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution urging Israel to immediately withdraw its forces from the area after the country organized local elections in the area on 30 October.

READ MORE: Israeli Army Braces for Violence in Golan Heights in Wake of Trump's Move

Russian Deputy Envoy to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said Wednesday that Washington's unilateral decision to recognize the Golan Heights as Israel territory violates international law and the UN Security Council resolutions.

Israeli soldiers stand guard at Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank Friday, March 4, 2016 - Sputnik International
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"Despite the opinions and the warnings from the international and regional levels, the US formally pronounced Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan", Safronkov said on Wednesday. "We confirm that such steps not only violate the norms of international law, furthermore they violate Security Council resolutions".

"The UN force historically has been an effective mechanism to decrease tension, to prevent incidents and escalation, and also to settle different claims between Israel and Syria", Safronkov said on Wednesday.

"This mechanism in the future should be able to create potential for building trust between the parties too. It is unacceptable seeing this positive trend and unilateral steps to undermine that, this not only exacerbates the situation in Syria and complicates the establishment of political process but it also creates serious obstacles to normalizing the relations between Israel and the Arab States".

READ MORE: Israel Plans to Triple Golan Heights Population to Form Jewish Majority — Mayor

Syrian Information Minister Imad Sara told Sputnik on Tuesday that Trump's proclamation has demonstrated that the legitimacy of international law does not exist anymore, stressing that Damascus would not give up its right to return all territories belonging to Syria, and the Golan Heights was no exception.

READ MORE: Middle East Quiet on Golan Heights Because ‘the Arab World Is Divided' on Syria

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