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Iran launches major naval exercise in northern Indian Ocean

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Iranian Navy test-fires a missile during Velayat 94 military maneuvers in January 2016 . (File photo)

Iranian naval forces have launched the final stage of a large-scale drill north of the Indian Ocean to enhance their defense capabilities.

Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced the beginning of the maneuver, code-named Velayat 95, on Sunday.

"The aim of the Velayat 95 drill is to upgrade the country's defensive capabilities and send Iran's message of peace and friendship to the regional countries," the Navy chief said aboard the Sahand warship.

The exercises are being held in an area of 2 million square kilometers, spanning the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman, north of the Indian Ocean and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.

Surface and subsea vessels and naval helicopters have been deployed in operational formations to carry out missions across the waters.

The drill also involves special forces stationed across the Makran coastal strip on the Sea of Oman to rehearse defending Iranian waters.

Additionally, reconnaissance patrol aircraft, hovercraft and drones are on the look-out, monitoring the movements of foreign troops.

Advanced radars, sonar systems and domestically-manufactured chaff dispensing systems used to distract radar-guided missiles are also being tested in the drill.

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On Saturday, Sayyari told a live TV program that Iran's most advanced destroyer Sahand will soon join the country’s naval fleet. The all-weather vessel is provisioned with the capability to carry out both defensive and offensive tasks against surface, subsea and aerial targets, he said.

"Sahand is currently our most advanced destroyer given the systems which are mounted on its deck and has a better capability than the Jamaran destroyer for carrying helicopters," he said.

The commander stressed that Iran's military might is defensive in nature despite the "Iranophobia" campaign which is being waged by the enemies to portray the country as aggressive.

Iran has recently made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and hardware.

The Islamic Republic maintains that its military power poses no threat to other countries and is merely attentive to its military doctrine of deterrence.

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