IDF special forces head to Cyprus to train for fight against Hezbollah

Hundreds of paratroopers lead drill simulating war in Lebanon-like terrain; Air Force also practices strikes against Iranian nuclear sites

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Hundreds of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, including special forces, headed to Cyprus on Sunday to participate in the final week of a major month-long exercise, simulating war against the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

According to the IDF, the drills — taking place jointly with the Cypriot military — are aimed at “improving the readiness of troops and their competence in operational missions deep in enemy territory,” referring to Lebanon.

The military said both conscript and reserve troops from the 98th Paratroopers Division, along with air force units and other special forces — such as the elite Shayetet 13 navy unit — were to participate in the drills in Cyprus.

Among other things, the drills will simulate evacuating wounded troops by helicopter, and dropping logistics equipment with heavy transport squadrons, according to the IDF.

The IDF said the exercises would be carried out in various terrains, including urban and rural areas in mountainous terrain, that resemble Lebanon.

Also during the final week of the major exercise — dubbed “Chariots of Fire” — the Air Force will simulate airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, over the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli troops are seen participating in the IDF’s ‘Chariots of Fire’ drill in northern Israel, in May 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Chariots of Fire drill — scheduled to last through June 3 — is the military’s largest exercise in decades.

It has focused on sudden events erupting in multiple theaters at the same time, while focusing on fighting the Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Military officials said the drills were aimed at raising the competence and readiness of troops and top brass for war on multiple fronts, as well as coordination with other emergency organizations, local authorities, and government ministries.

Most Popular
read more: