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Iran holds surprise military drills near Turkish border

Major general Mohammad Bagheri, brigadier general Habibollah Sayyari and brigadier general Abdolrahim Mousavi reviewing plans of Velayat-90 Naval Exercise. (Mohammad Sadegh Heydari/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s army has launched unannounced military drills in the northwest of the country bordering Turkey, Iranian state media reported.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on October 9 that the exercises included rapid reaction units, mobile and offense brigades, and helicopters.

The maneuvers in Iran’s Western Azerbaijan Province are being overseen by Iran’s army chief, Major General Abdolrahim Musavi, according to state TV.

The reports did not mention the number of troops taking part.

The announcement of the drills comes as Turkey says it is about to launch an offensive into northern Syria.

Tehran, a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, opposes the planned Turkish incursion.

On October 9, Iranian President Hassan Rohani called on Ankara to show restraint and avoid military action in northern Syria.

“Turkey is rightfully worried about its southern borders. We believe that a correct path should be adopted to remove those concerns,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Rohani as saying.

He also said that U.S. troops “must leave the region” and Kurdish forces in Syria “should support the Syrian Army.”