Iran’s army begins massive military drill

Close to 13,000 personnel will take part in the drills, marking Iran’s first organized military maneuvers so far from its coastline

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Iran launched extensive military drills on Thursday, in a show of strength stretching several hundred kilometers from the Strait of Hormuz to the Gulf of Aden, state TV reported.

Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, chief of the Army’s ground forces, told state television on Thursday that the maneuvers are aimed at “transferring experiences” to younger generations of the Iranian soldiers.

The weeklong exercise will be carried out over 850,000 square miles in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, Sea of Oman and the eastern part of the passage, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supply passes, according to the report.

The initial part of the drill includes exercises by ground units in southeast Iran on Thursday and Friday. But the exercises are set to last six days and involve ballistic missile and drone testing, according to military officials.

Close to 13,000 personnel will take part in the drills, which will be the first time Iran has organized military maneuvers so far from its coastline, Agence France-Presse reported.

The southeastern provinces of Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchistan will also be included in the tests, with the Iranian army, air force, navy and Revolutionary Guards participating.

“One of the aims of these maneuvers is to increase our defensive capability... and to transfer this experience to young” personnel, army chief general Abdolrahim Moussavi told state television.

The drills will finish with a military parade on Dec. 30.

Last week Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari called on foreign forces in the region to “leave the area” in order to avoid incidents.

The maneuvers will pose “no danger to foreign forces in the Persian Gulf,” he added, in an apparent reference to the US Fifth Fleet, which is stationed in Bahrain.

Iran’s navy has boosted its international presence over the past few years, in particular to help guard commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden from pirate attacks.

(With Associated Press and AFP)

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