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|Monday, October 30, 2000, updated at 09:30(GMT+8)|
Iran Launches War Games to Show Support for PalestiniansIran's military forces on Sunday launched large-scale war games in the southern Persian Gulf waters to show support for the Palestinian resistance against Israel, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The "Vahdat (Unity)-79" exercises will last eight days and involve 8,000 troops from the regular army, the elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), the security forces and the Basiji volunteer forces, spokesman of the war games Issa Golverdi said.
"One of the major goals of the maneuvers is to show Iran's support for the Palestinian intifada (uprising) movement against the Israeli Zionist regime," he stressed.
Since Israeli right-winger Ariel Sharon's visit to a Jerusalem shrine revered by both Jews and Muslims on September 29, clashes between protesting Palestinians and Israeli forces have been taking place on a daily basis in the Palestinian territories. Casualties were reported almost daily, with the fatalities of Palestinians having reached over 130 and injuries more than 5,000 so far.
The spokesman added that another feature of the war games, which cover Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the strategic Strait of Hormuz, is to show the power of Iran's police in combating drug-trafficking and contrabands.
Noting that several Omani observers are monitoring the maneuvers, he called on Gulf neighboring countries to strengthen military cooperation in order to safeguard safety and security in the region,
"If the neighboring states cooperate, the Persian Gulf security belt will strengthen," he said.
Last week, IRGC Navy Commander Rear-Admiral Morteza Safari said the eight-day war games were aimed at testing domestic-made equipment and boosting the morale of participation forces.
He said a new surface-to-surface missile will be tested during the exercises, but did not disclose any technical details about the missile.
Iran frequently launches military exercises or missile tests as part of the country's efforts to achieve self-reliance in military equipment and capabilities.
But it insists that it pursues a policy of defense and deterrence and its military capabilities will not be used to pose any threat to any country.
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