x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Israel's biggest snap military drill in years mobilised

Tens of thousands of soldiers were mobilised for the exercise, including artillery and air force personnel.

JERUSALEM // The Israeli military conducted its largest snap drill in years yesterday.

The exercise was ordered to test the competence and preparedness of several units in the armed forces, the military said.

It called the drill, which was carried out in northern and central Israel, "part of a routine inspection" that "does not indicate any changes" in the country's alert levels.

Tens of thousands of soldiers were mobilised for the exercise, including artillery and air force personnel.

The number of soldiers and high-ranking officers involved made the drill unique, several sources said.

As part of the exercise, troops were dispatched by air from central parts of the country to the Israeli-controlled section of the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria in the 1967 war.

The drill ended with a live-fire exercise in the Golan.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly said they fear Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons and missiles might fall into the hands of anti-Israel militants during the fighting there.

Israel is also concerned that Iran is close to developing nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied such claims, insisting its nuclear programme has no military component.

Israel has been warning of an Iranian nuclear threat for nearly two decades.

The country's leaders have recently suggested they would be prepared to strike Iran's nuclear facilities unilaterally to prevent Tehran from acquiring atom bombs.