Iran launched an unannounced large military exercise near the Turkish border on Wednesday, soon after Ankara invaded Syria to confront a mostly Kurdish group, the Iranian Tasnim News Agency reported.Turkey started its invasion of a narrow strip of Syria where the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] had been protected by the US, until Washington announced on Sunday that it was pulling US troops out of Syria. While most of the controversy has been about the US betrayal of its five-year alliance with the SDF, potentially leading to Turkey being able to devastate SDF forces and any civilians in the area, Iran's actions signaled a new side to the developments.Although Iranian Maj.-Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi said the army’s forces are fully prepared to counter “any possible movement of the enemy,” projecting the exercise as defensive in nature, Iran has frequently used military power in recent months in an aggressive manner.“Iran’s patterns of behavior indicate a growing preference for direct action (even if one with deniability) over deployment of proxy organizations to achieve Iran’s current strategic goals,” the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said in a report issued on Thursday. “This does not mean that Iran stopped utilizing proxies in the ongoing escalation in the Gulf. However, most military actions attributed to Iran in recent months were carried out by Iranian military units or led by them.”According to the Tasnim News Agency report, the exercise took place in regions near Oroumiyeh, the capital city of Iran's northwestern province of West Azerbaijan.“The Army’s units are at the peak of their readiness and will carry out any mission assigned to them as quickly as possible,” Mousavi stated. “The message of the war game to the enemies is that if they miscalculate, they should know that the children of this land are ready to resist with their full power at any time and place.”Mousavi further pointed to the army having full intelligence dominance over the region, adding, “We are prepared for any level of threat designed by the enemy.”The unannounced military drill involves rapid reaction units, mobile and offense brigades, and helicopters from the Army Ground Force’s Airborne Unit, said the report.Held under the theme “One Target, One Shot,” the exercise is aimed at evaluating the preparedness of army unit and agility in the battlefield.The report said that Iran’s forces hold routine military exercises throughout the year.Furthermore, it added that “Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the country will not hesitate to strengthen its military capabilities, including its missile power – which are entirely meant for defense – and that Iran’s defense capabilities will be never subject to negotiations.”The West, moderate Sunni Arab states and Israel all regard Iran’s ballistic missile program and activities throughout the Middle East as aggressive and problematic, though there are differences about how strongly to confront Tehran about these issues.“In the Syrian arena too in the past two years, a change has been occurring in the patterns of Iranian activities against Israel, with Tehran showing increasing willingness to carry out direct offensive actions, using UAVs and rockets, although Iran does strive to downplay the involvement of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in these actions,” the Meir Amit Center said.Iran has admitted to shooting down a US drone and detaining naval vessels of US allies, and is accused by the West of a massive strike on Saudi Arabia's oil fields.