Thousands of paramilitary Iranian forces from the revolutionary Guard have held a war game simulating a possible seize of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque from Israeli occupation, state media reported on Saturday.
The symbolic simulations were backed up by Guard helicopters, drones and Tucano planes that raided and bombed enemy positions, all before ground troops captured the replica of the mosque located at the top of a mountain.
A state media report said, the forces stormed and “liberated” a replica of the Mosque during the operation. It said that 120 brigades from the Basii, the paramilitary division of the Guard, attended the operation outside the holy city of Qom in central Iran.
In a common mistake, the forces set up a part of the gold-topped Dome of the Rock mosque rather than the nearby gray-domed Al Aqsa mosque. Pictures from Iranian officials showed some of the troops climbing the top of the dome and raising an Iranian flag along with a red flag, a sign of martyrdom.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard’s aerospace division, said the forces deployed Shahed-129, or Witness-129, drones during the war games. The drone which was revealed in 2013, has a range of 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles), and a 24-hour nonstop flight which could carry eight bombs or missiles.
However the simulation appeared to be largely for show. Iranian commanders have not said how they would be able to deploy numbers of forces against Israel, located 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) away, or how to counter Israel’s powerful and advanced military ammunitions.
Iran, Israel’s arch-rival, does not recognise the sovereignty of Israel and called for its destruction, it frequently expresses solidarity with the Palestinians and holds the annual "Jerusalem Day" on the last Friday of every month of Ramadan.
Al Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, is regarded by Jews as the Temple Mount and is considered the most holy place of Judaism.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem's Al Aqsa’s neighbourhood in the Six Day War of 1967, the international community does not recognise the annexation.
The Al Aqsa compound has been a source of religious and political tension for decades between Israel and Palestine, as well as a frequent flashpoint for violence. Similar clashes took place at the end of July.
Some religious Jewish groups call for the demolition of the Al Aqsa Mosque, known as the Temple Mount amongst Jews, in order to fulfill a biblical commandment to build a third Jewish temple in its place.