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Iran begins new military exercises in south


Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Special Forces. A file photo.

TEHRAN (AP): Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard began military exercises Saturday in the country's south, the latest show of force after threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for tougher Western sanctions.

The latest military manoeuvres got under way following stern warnings by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about any possible US or Israeli attacks against Tehran's nuclear facilities.

Western forces also have boosted their naval presence in the Gulf led by the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Iranian officials and lawmakers repeatedly have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf in retaliation for sanctions that affect Iran's oil exports.

But they have as yet made no attempts to disrupt shipping through the waterway, the route for one-fifth of the world's crude oil, and the US and allies have warned they would respond swiftly to any attempts at a blockade.

Last month, Iran rolled out its troops and arsenals in an unprecedented display of military readiness, with 10 days of naval manoeuvres that included the first threats to block Gulf oil tankers.

Ground forces also were sent on winter war games against what a Tehran military spokesman called a "hypothetical enemy" with US forces just over the border in Afghanistan.

Plans for new Iranian naval games in the Persian Gulf off the country's southern coast have been in the works for weeks.

Iranian state media reported the new manoeuvres near Jiroft, 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran.

No more details were available, but it appeared that they were small-scale exercises and not linked to the planned major naval manoeuvres near the Strait of Hormuz, which funnels down to a waterway no wider than 30 miles (50 kilometers) at the mouth of the Gulf.

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Iran  US  Military  Wargames  

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