Iran to stage massive military drill near Iraqi border
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Iran to stage massive military drill near Iraqi border

Three-day exercise involving air force and army coincides with largest US-Israel air defense drill in history

A military exhibition displays the Shahab-3 missile under a picture of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Hasan Sarbakhshian)
A military exhibition displays the Shahab-3 missile under a picture of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

The Iranian army is planning a “unique” military exercise along the country’s border with Iraq, a semiofficial Iranian news agency said.

The ISNA agency on Thursday quoted a senior army commander, Gen. Saeed Arabloo, as saying the three-day drill in Iran’s Kermanshah province would begin on Monday and include air and ground forces.

He said the aim of the exercise was to upgrade the defensive capabilities of the Iranian forces. He did not elaborate.

Military officials in September had announced that Iran would stage a massive air defense drill, incorporating aerial and ground forces, which would coincide with the US-Israel military drill known as Austere Challenge 12.

Iranian air defense commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said the maneuver would include all of the Iranian army’s air defense systems, as well as Iranian air force fighter jets, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iranian state news agency Press TV reported at the time.

It was not clear whether the drill being staged in Kermanshah province was the same drill mentioned by Esmaili.

Iran held a large urban combat drill last week involving 15,000 paramilitary soldiers belonging to the Revolutionary Guards-subordinate Basij militia.

Iran and Iraq fought an eight-year war in the 1980s that left about one million dead on the two sides.

The latest drill comes amid mounting international criticism over Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at developing nuclear weapons — a charge Tehran denies.

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