Iran holds annual war games near Strait of Hormuz

The three-day military drills come as the Donald Trump administration wants to restore international sanctions on Iran.

al-monitor Iranian 200-kilometer (120-mile) range Qader (Ghader) ground-to-sea missile is launched on the last day of navy war games near the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on Jan. 2, 2012.  Photo by EBRAHIM NOROOZI/AFP via Getty Images.

Sep 10, 2020

Iran is holding three days of military drills near the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway, state media reported, amid heightened tensions with the United States over Washington's push to reimpose international sanctions on Tehran.

The annual exercises, called Zolfaghar-99, involve naval, air and ground forces and are taking place in a 2-million-square-meter zone in the strategic waters, state news agency IRNA said.

“Implementation of tactical plans, pursuing tests of surface-to-surface cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, rocket launchers, drones … are the main aim of the army maneuver to defend territorial waters,” said the IRNA.

The spokesman for the exercises, Adm. Shahram Irani, said the United States had pulled back its drones after warnings from Iran to leave the area.

The Strait of Hormuz, which is situated between Oman and Iran and through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil passes, has been a source of US-Iran tensions. At a different military exercise near the waterway in late July, Iranian forces fired missiles at a replica of a US aircraft carrier.

Last summer, the United States blamed Iran for a flurry of attacks on six shipping tankers near the strait. Iran denied involvement but admitted to downing an American drone it said had violated its airspace.

This year’s war games come as the Donald Trump administration presses ahead with its plan to restore international sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo set to expire in October. At the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has attempted to trigger a "snapback" of sanctions, accusing Iran of breaching its obligations under the same nuclear deal the United States withdrew from in 2018.

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