Special report: Iran Nuclear Crisis
TEHRAN, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) launched the three-day military drills on Monday across the country, conducting a series of missile tests, the state media reported.
The ongoing war game, dubbed Eqtedar (Grand), were being carried out in 16 of Iran's 30 provinces. It has been reported that 20 brigades of Revolutionary Guards' ground forces had joined the maneuvers and "the most advanced weapons" would be tested during three days.
"The drills started with the firing of short, medium and long-range missiles, and the Fajr-3, Fajr-5 and Zelzal missiles with various ranges will be fired during the three-day war games," the official IRNA news agency reported.
The Fajr-3 has a slightly shorter range, and the Fajr-5 can hit a target about 70 km away, while the Zelzal could cover a range of 100 to 400 km, according to the report.
"The purpose of the drills are aimed at maintaining IRGC's different units' combat readiness," it added.
Commander of IRGC ground forces Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi said that the current Eqtedar maneuvers will be conducted in three stages, adding that the exercises would be the biggest conducted by the IRGC ground forces in the current Iranian year (stated March 21, 2006).
Meanwhile, exercise spokesman General Nilforoushan, who didn't give his first name, said in a state television that the troops would carry out offensive exercises with anti-helicopter and anti-aircraft weapons besides defense practice.
"Having military weapons with a range of up to 50 km was used to be our dream, but today we have rockets and missiles with a range of more than 200 km," said the top officer.
This is the second time that Iran launched war games in the recent one month. Missile units of the air and naval forces of the Revolutionary Guards launched drills on Feb. 7, in order to test the country's missile defense capability.
During the exercise, Iran test-fired a land-to-sea cruise missile and its newly imported Tor-M1 air defense missile systems.
Iran has regularly launched large-scale war games since the nuclear issue became the global spotlight three years ago.
Last November, Iran started a 10-day military maneuvers, dubbed "The Great Prophet 2", during which the Revolutionary Guards also test fired ballistic Shahab-3 missiles with a range of more than 2,000 km.