Iran’s Revolutionary Guards conducted a mock battle to capture the Al-Aqsa mosque from the hands of the Israeli occupiers according to state media reports on Saturday.
Thousands of troops stormed and ‘liberated’ a replica of the Al-Aqsa mosque from Israeli forces during training exercise, 80 miles south of the capital Tehran on Friday. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps with the help of young basiji volunteers participated in ‘capturing’ the replica mosque set up at the top of a mountain.
The simulated war games are a response to the recent increase in conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis, stemming from Palestinian suspicion about Israeli plans for the Al-Aqsa compound. The compound houses the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa mosque, both revered in Judaism and Islam. Israel is either planning to undermine the foundations of the third holiest site in Islam or is genuinely searching to explore and expand on Jewish history that lays around the historical site. Iran has an interest in the fate of the third holiest site in Islam together with other Muslims.
The Independent reports:
The symbolic operations were backed up by Guard helicopters, drones and Tucano planes that bombed hypothetical enemy positions before ground troops captured the replica of the mosque set up at the top of a mountain.
In a common mistake, the Guard set up a replica of the gold-topped Dome of the Rock mosque instead of the nearby gray-domed Al-Aqsa mosque. Official photos showed one of the troops going to the top of the dome and waving an Iranian flag and a red flag, a symbol of martyrdom.
The hilltop compound, which is holy to Jews and Muslims, has been at the heart of weeks of unrest between Israel and the Palestinians. Muslims call the site the Noble Sanctuary, and the mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Jews revere the spot as the Temple Mount – home to the biblical Temples and the holiest site in Judaism.
The current round of fighting was sparked in part by rumors that Israel was plotting to take over the site – a charge that Israel vehemently denies.