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Iran’s Navy Begins Annual Exercise Off Strait of Hormuz

Iran's navy has begun an annual drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz -- its first major exercise in the area since the January 20 inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Iranian state television reported that the two-day exercises began on February 26.

The Iranian navy's chief, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, was quoted by state TV as saying that the maneuvers would cover an area of 2 million square kilometers in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait.

The state broadcaster also showed footage of Iranian warships and helicopters taking part in the exercise.

But it said the drill does not involve Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a paramilitary force that the U.S. Navy often criticizes for harassing U.S. ships in international waters.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, declined to comment on Iran's exercises or discuss whether it planned to monitor the drill.

Nearly a third of the world's oil trade by sea passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which has been the scene of previous confrontations between the United States and Iran.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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