By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Iranian media are reporting that thousands of Basij paramilitary troops have participated in an exercise simulating an attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Some 120 brigades of Basij, which is the paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), stormed and captured a replica of the mosque in the city of Qom on November 20.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, and the site is also sacred for Jews, who refer to it as Temple Mount.
The area has been a focus of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in recent weeks after the Israeli government implemented new security restrictions at the site.
The restrictions sparked violence that has left 83 Palestinians and 12 Israelis dead over the last seven weeks.
The Qom exercise also included the participation of IRGC helicopters, drones, and other aircraft that simulated the bombing of hypothetical Israeli positions.
Photos showed the Iranian flag flying over the replica of the mosque compound.
Iran does not recognize Israel and has called for its dissolution. Tehran supports anti-Israeli militants throughout the Middle East.