Syria buries former lawmaker shot near Israeli border

International

Volunteers from the Baath battalions carry the Syrian flag-wrapped coffin of former Syrian Druze lawmaker Midhat Saleh, allegedly shot by Israeli sniper fire, in Ein el-Tineh, a village along the Israeli frontier in the Golan Heights, during his funeral procession in Jaramana, southeast of Damascus, Syria, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. Saleh was born in Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan, and was jailed several times by Israel, most recently for 12 years until 1997. (AP Photo)

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A former Syrian lawmaker allegedly felled by Israeli sniper fire was laid to rest Monday in an official funeral attended by hundreds of people near Damascus.

Midhat Saleh, a well-known figure in Syria, was fatally shot Saturday in Ein el-Tineh, a village along the Israeli border in the Golan Heights where he ran a Syrian government office. Syria said he was killed by Israeli sniper fire. Israeli military and other officials declined to comment on the charge.

Israeli media, however, said Saleh had been assisting the Iranian military presence against Israel. If the Syrian claims are confirmed, it would mark the first time that Israeli snipers are known to have killed someone identified as an Iranian-linked target across the border.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the area. Most of the world does not recognize the annexation, though the Trump administration declared the territory to be part of Israel.

On Monday, Saleh’s coffin, wrapped in a Syrian flag, was brought in an ambulance from the Mamdouh Abaza hospital in Qunetira to Jaramana, on the outskirts of Damascus, for burial at a Druze cemetery. Hundreds of people attended, in addition to senior officials and Druze clerics.

Saleh was born in Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan, and was jailed several times by Israel, most recently for 12 years until 1997. He later moved to Syria, was elected to parliament in 1998 and served as an adviser to the government on the Golan issue.

Saleh’s son, Golan, a 17-year-old student, said that his father has always told him that the territory would return to Syria.

“I am proud that my father was martyred,” he said.

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