Iran launched a new series of large-scale military exercises today aimed at introducing the country's new defensive doctrine, state-run television reported. The exercise would occur in 14 of the country's 30 provinces and could last as long as five weeks.
The first stage of the maneuvers began with air strikes in the southeastern province of Sistan va Baluchistan. The military exercise, involving 12 infantry regiments, is called "The Blow of Zolfaghar," in reference to a sword that belonged to Imam Ali, one of the most revered figures of Islam for Shiite Muslims. Assault and transport helicopters, parachutists, electronic war units and special forces will take part in the initial maneuver. Additionally, new anti-aircraft system was tested, which was able to "make the air space unsafe for the enemies" with cooperation of land forces, helicopters and fighter jets.
"Our main objective of this exercise is to adopt new tactics and use new equipment able to cope with possible threats," Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heydari said. "We have been vigilant to what has happened in the world, and we have invested in both modern tactics and equipment."
On Thursday, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said the U.S. will push quickly for sanctions if Iran fails to suspend uranium enrichment by an end of August deadline, set by the Security Council. Tehran has said it will respond by August 22 to an offer of economic incentives from the P-5 + 1. The incentives would be in exchange for a suspension of Iran's nuclear enrichment activities.
UPDATE 08/20 @ 12:55: Iran test-fired a surface-to-surface short-range missile, with a reported range of 80-250 km., while a military training plane crashed outside Tehran after catching fire, state-run television reported Sunday. The broadcast said the plane was making an emergency landing on a
highway in northeast Tehran but it crashed after a wing of the plane
hit a water reservoir and burst into flames.
That's one impressive air force!