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Iran, Russia, China kick off joint military drills in Indian Ocean amid growing ties

Iranian, Russian, and Chinese navies kick off joint military drills in the north of the Indian Ocean on January 21, 2022. (Photo by IRNA)

Iran, Russia, and China have kicked off joint military drills in the north of the Indian Ocean, with vessels from the three countries hitting pre-determined targets at sea.

The “2022 Marine Security Belt” exercise, which began on Friday morning, marks the third of such joint exercises between the three countries.

“Together for peace and security” is the theme of the exercise, which covers an area of 17,000 square kilometers and includes both navies from Iran’s Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as well as the Russian and Chinese naval forces.

A variety of tactical exercises such as rescuing burning vessels, releasing hijacked vessels, shooting at specific targets, shooting at air targets at night, and other tactical and operational exercises are expected to be carried out during the drills.

Strengthening the security of international maritime trade, combating piracy and maritime terrorism, exchanging intelligence in the field of maritime rescue missions, and exchanging operational and tactical experience are among the objectives of the 2022 Marine Security Belt exercise.

“At this stage of the exercise, the vessels units of Iran, China, and Russia, under the command of the [fully homegrown] Iranian destroyer Jamaran, fired from 20mm caliber weapons at pre-determined surface targets at sea,” Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoddini, spokesman for the naval drill, said on Friday.

“Also, in the next stage, the ‘PHOTOEX’ exercise, including the formulation and offensive arrangement of the units participating in the exercise, was carried out in accordance with the threats in the region,” he added.

Tajoddi said Iran’s presence in international coalitions manifests the improvement of the Islamic Republic’s standing in the world.

He said Iran attaches great importance to the establishment of security at regional and international levels, adding, “That’s why the naval forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not allow any threat in the maritime field.”

A day earlier, Tajoddini said the purpose of the drill was to strengthen security in the region, expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries, and create a maritime community with a common future.

Meanwhile, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said the exercise in the Persian Gulf is a show of force by the regional powers against foreigners.

“Since foreign countries are always looking for insecurity in the region, holding this exercise will definitely send a good message to foreigners,” Fada-Hossein Maleki told Fars news agency.

He warned the US and Israel that they must not have an eye on the region’s resources.

The Americans, as usual, have failed against Iran, Maleki said.

“The Americans formed an alliance with NATO and invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, achieving nothing but destruction in the region after almost 20 years. Therefore, these alliances have no place in the region,” the lawmaker said.

“The formation of a naval coalition in the Persian Gulf by the Americans will face the same fate that the previous ones did, because there is a powerful military force in the Persian Gulf like Iran,” he added.

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