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Syria adamantly defiant of resolution 1701

DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Syria remained defiant of international will by reaffirming support to Hezbollah's armed resistance against Israel in contradiction to U.N. Resolution 1701.

Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said in an interview with United Press International Wednesday that Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians have national territories occupied by the same enemy, Israel, and that they will fight to recover them.

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"If they (Israelis) want to return the land through negotiations, they are welcome, otherwise it is resistance," Bilal said, commenting on Israeli remarks on the need to negotiate with Lebanon, resume talks with the Palestinians and prepare the ground for negotiations with Syrians.

"Resistance can go simultaneously with negotiations... Because our resistance is for peace... a just and comprehensive peace in the region," Bilal said.

Although he pledged resistance against Israel until the recovery of the occupied Golan Heights, the Syrian minister did not clarify if his country is going to mobilize its own national resistance movement and whether it will operate through the Golan front, where a disengagement agreement has been strictly observed by both sides for 32 years.

Anti-Syrian Lebanese groups accuse Syria and Iran, Hezbollah's main backers, of waging war against Israel and the United States by proxy through the Lebanese Shiite group in south Lebanon.

Bilal also refuted U.S. remarks that Syria is an isolated state after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier canceled a scheduled visit to Damascus in apparent protest against Syrian President Bashar Assad's speech Tuesday in which he lambasted resolution 1701.

"We do not feel isolated at all," Bilal said, noting Western reaction to Assad's speech was "expected."

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