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September 10, 2020 9:08 am

Iran’s Military Holds Annual Drill Near Strait of Hormuz: State TV

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

An Iranian locally-made cruise missile is fired during war games in the northern Indian Ocean, near the entrance to the Gulf, June 17, 2020. Photo: WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters.

Iran’s military launched an annual drill in the Gulf near the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway, Iranian state TV reported on Thursday, at a time of high tension between Tehran and Washington.

The three-day exercise in the eastern side of the strait in the Gulf of Oman is aimed at improving Tehran’s military might to confront “foreign threats and any possible invasion,” the commander of the maneuver, Admiral Habibollah Sardari, stated.

Naval, air and ground forces, including submarines and drones, were participating in the drill, called Zolfaghar-99, the report said.

There have been periodic confrontations between Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and the US military in the Gulf in recent years. Washington has accused the Guards’ navy of sending fast-attack boats to harass US warships in the strait.

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The spokesman for the drill, Admiral Shahram Irani, told state TV that the United States had withdrawn drones from the area of the exercise after a warning from Iran.

Tehran, which opposes the presence of US and Western navies in the area, holds annual war games in the strait, the conduit for some 30 percent of all crude traded by sea.

Tensions have risen between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when the United States withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers, and reimposed sanctions. Iran has threatened to block the Strait if its crude exports were shut down by US sanctions.

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