By Daniel J Roth, JPOST—
Thousands of Iranian paramilitary forces participated in mock drills and exercises simulating the capture of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported Friday.
Constructing a plastic replica of the al-Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, “tens of thousands of soldiers” conducted staged exercises dubbed “Towards the Holy City.”
The Fars report added that the drills involved over 120 Basij battalions, in which fighter-jets bombed targets in the dessert and dozens of gun-wielding squadrons representing IDF soldiers guarding the shrine replica.
Fars quoted one Basij commander as saying the drills were organized “to exercise preparedness to fight against possible threats in the region.”
Basij fighters are a volunteer arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and have been arriving in Syria to reinforce Syrian government troops in an offensive in the contested northern city of Aleppo and other insurgent-held areas.
Last month, Iran held a public funeral for one Basij senior paramilitary fighter after he was fatally wounded in battle in northern Syria.
Nader Hamid died in a Syrian hospital last week of gunshot wounds sustained in a gun battle, Iranian agencies reported.
Iran says it has military advisers and volunteers in Syria but denies having a conventional force on the ground and says it is supporting the Syrian army against Islamic State insurgents. Russia, which is carrying out air strikes with Syrian-based jets, says the same.