Iran begins annual navy drill off Strait of Hormuz

AP News
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Posted: Feb 26, 2017 1:48 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's navy began an annual drill Sunday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, state television reported.

The TV report quoted navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the two-day maneuver will cover an area of 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait. It showed Iranian warships and helicopters taking part in the exercise.

Nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait and it has been the scene of previous confrontations between the U.S. and Iran.

But the drill does not involve Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force the U.S. Navy often criticizes for harassing its vessels.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, declined to comment on the exercise or discuss if it had any plans to monitor the drill.

Iran's navy routinely holds war games it says are aimed at improving its readiness against threats. It also sends its warships to international waters off the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy.