In a show of force, Syria began large-scale military exercises Sunday, July 8, to simulate defending the country against outside “aggression,” while Damascus’ staunch ally Iran warned of a “catastrophe” in the region if no political solution to the 16-month-old Syrian conflict is found, the Associated Press
reported. The military maneuvers began Saturday with naval forces in a scenario where they repelled an attack from the sea, and will include air and ground forces over the next few days, the state-run SANA news agency said. State TV broadcast footage of missiles being fired from launch vehicles and warships — an apparent warning to other countries not to intervene in the country’s crisis. Meanwhile, U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged in an interview published Saturday that the international community’s efforts to find a political solution to the escalating violence in Syria have failed.