Syrian President Bashar Assad has
ordered the issuing of Syrian identification cards and numbers for Druze residing in the Golan Heights, state news agency SANA reported Tuesday.
According to the report, the order is aimed at "emphasizing the belonging of the Syrian residents of the Golan Heights to the Syrian motherland."
The move aims to "ease the suffering" of the Druze people living on the Golan, caused by "harassment and Israeli human rights violations," SANA added.
More than 18,000 Syrians -- most of them Druze, a sect of Islam -- live on the Golan and have refused to take Israeli nationality.
Last Monday, General Ali Khabib, the Syrian chief of staff, instructed pilots at a ceremony marking their graduation from flight school to "be prepared to fend off all external aggression that seeks to harm the homeland".
"Syria will never relinquish its right to return occupied land," the general continued. "As President Bashar Assad emphasized, Syria is interested in gaining back of all of its rights – including the return of all of its territory and sovereignty."
AFP contributed to the report