US, Western allies launch war games near Iran waters

U.S. Navy handout photo of a riverine patrol boat from Costal Riverine Squadron 2 escorts the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill while in the Gulf.

The US and four other allied navies have begun a three-day maritime exercise in international waters next to the Iranian shoreline.

The exercise includes navy participants from the UK (which is leading the exercise), France and Australia.

“The exercise is intended to enhance mutual capabilities, improve tactical proficiency and strengthen partnerships in ensuring the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation,” a US Navy press release said.

According to Sputnik News, it is expected that the HMS Daring, the HMS Ocean, and US and French warships will simulate destroying Iranian combat jets, ships and coastal missile launching facilities during the exercise.

The exercise comes after a series of brief encounters between US warships in the Gulf and Iranian ships.

There were 35 incidents in the first half of 2016, according to the Pentagon, and earlier in January the USS Mahan fired flares and a warning shots on four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps attack boats as they approached the US Navy ship.

The head of the Iranian navy, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, has warned against any incursion of the participating ships into Iranian territorial waters.

But US officials have said there is no plan to enter Iranian territorial waters, according to the news site.


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