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In show of force, Syrian regime holds war games

By Bassem Mroue

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 5 2011 12:30 a.m. MST

Pro-Syrian regime protesters gather during a protest against sanctions, in Damascus, Syria, on Friday Dec. 2, 2011. The Syrian violence has led to several rounds of sanctions, a key tool used by the international community to exert pressure on the regime. The measures include travel bans and asset freezes. The EU's latest sanctions, which were announced Thursday, target 12 people and 11 companies. They add to a long list of regime figures previously sanctioned by the EU, including Assad, his top associates, and high-ranking security officials.

Bassem Tellawi, Associated Press

BEIRUT — Syria's state-run media say the country's military has held war games during which the army test-fired missiles and the air force and ground troops conducted operations "similar to a real battle."

The maneuvers come as Syria is under Arab and international pressure to end a crackdown on an eight-month uprising that the U.N. says has killed more than 4,000 people.

State TV said Monday the exercise was meant to test "the capabilities and readiness of missile systems to respond to any possible aggression." It says the war games were held on Sunday.

In October, Syrian President Bashar Assad warned the Middle East "will burn" if the West intervenes in Syria.

Syria is known to have surface-to-surface missiles such as Scuds capable of hitting deep inside its archenemy Israel.

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