TEHRAN, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- An Iranian military commander said more than 8,000 troops will take part in large-scale military exercises planned for October.
Iranian air force Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili said the Khatam al-Anbiya defense base will host military drills alongside other armed forces in October, state funded broadcaster Press TV reported Sunday. The exercises are scheduled in Iran's mountainous north.
Iran marked Sunday as the anniversary of its bloody eight-year war with Iraq. Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said Iran's military presence on the western front of Asia is to ensure stability.
"The Iranian establishment is the flag-bearer of peace in this region and respects all regional governments," he was quoted by Press TV as saying.
The rhetoric comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani heads to the United States to address members gathered for the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator, vowed to lead Iran as a moderate when he took office last month. White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week there is "an opportunity for diplomacy" with the Rouhani administration.
"We hope that the Iranian government takes advantage of this opportunity," he said.