A senior Iranian commander says the country’s Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) plan to stage a number of joint military drills in the current Iranian calendar year (started March 20, 2012). Commander of the Iranian Army's Ground Forces Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told reporters on Sunday that the military maneuvers are expected to be staged in the southeastern parts of the country in the second half of the year. In February, the IRGC conducted a military exercise named Val Fajr in Markazi (central) Desert days after the Army’s air forces wrapped up the four-day exercise, Tharallah, near the strategic Persian Gulf region. Also in February, during the Hamiyan-e Velayat drill, the IRGC forces practiced tactical commando raid and aerial combat, launched air offensive and defensive operations and carried out heliborne and anti-heliborne operations. In January, the IRGC Ground Forces held the Shohaday-e Vahdat military drill in the eastern province of Khorasan Razavi. Iran maintains that the maneuvers are defensive in nature and meant to convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries. Commander Pourdastan also pointed to the recent developments regarding Syria and said arrogant powers made every effort to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian government is, however, on a good path and has weathered the pressures, he added.Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. On June 3, Syrian President Assad said the country is “facing a war from abroad,” and that attempts are being made to “weaken Syria, [and] breach its sovereignty.” MP/GHN/HJL