| 21.12,11. 06:02 AM |
Syria Conducts War Games to Test 'Readiness to Repulse Any Attack'
The Syrian navy and air force conducted live-fire man oeuvres on Tuesday to test their preparedness to repulse "any aggression against the homeland," the official SANA news agency reported.
"The air force and air defenses conducted maneuvers with live ammunition ... with a view to testing the combat capabilities of the air forces and to test their readiness to respond to any aggression" against the country, SANA said.
The agency added that naval forces had carried out similar exercises.
In early December, rockets and tanks were tested "as part of a 2011 training program ... to deter any enemy attack," SANA reported at the time.
The exercises were "a show of force designed to intimidate," according to a Syrian analyst.
Another analyst said the war games aimed to deter "any (Western) impulse to intervene militarily in Syria by showing that it is prepared to declare a regional war."
An opposition figure said it was an act of defiance to signal that "the regime is ready to up the stakes if serious pressure continues to be exerted on it."
Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Maqdisi denied that the exercises were meant as a message "to anyone" but acknowledged that "Syria finds itself in a complicated situation."
Syria has come under U.S., EU and Arab sanctions over its suppression of anti-regime protests in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since mid-March.