Syrian military helicopter
Syrian military helicopterReuters

The Syrian Army has launched a major military drill, according to an announcement by the country's official SANA news agency.

The maneuvers, which began Saturday, are expected to continue for the next few days and are intended to simulate defense against outside “aggression,” said the report.

The Syrian Navy reportedly carried out a live fire drill over the weekend to simulate a surprise attack from the sea, with senior military officials observing the exercises.

National television broadcast film clips of missiles being fired from naval warships and launch vehicles. Air and ground forces were expected to be included over the next several days.

Israeli and other military officials are watching the exercises closely as well.

United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan admitted in an interview on Saturday that his efforts to find a political solution to the civil war in Syria have failed. Despite the deaths of thousands, protesters have continued to hold demonstrations at sites throughout the nation.

More than 14,000 people have died in the escalating violence ignited in March 2011 by the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region last year.

Despite numerous calls for intervention, however, the West has turned a deaf ear to pleas by opposition forces and their supporters. Government troops sent by President Bashar al-Assad meanwhile continue to aim heavy artillery and other weaponry at apartment buildings and homes in residential neighborhoods where protesters were active against the government.