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US Navy leads 30-nation maritime exercise in Middle East


04-11-2016 12:56 BJT

The US Navy is leading a 30-nation maritime exercise across Middle Eastern waters. The purpose of the drills is to help protect international trade routes against possible threats, including those posed by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The International Mine Countermeasures Exercise will begin today with a symposium in Bahrain, where the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based. The exercise is partly being held in the Arabian Gulf.  It comes as tensions run high between Gulf Arab countries and Iran over its role in the region. That includes Tehran's support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war, the Houthis in the Yemen conflict and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The drills comes in advance of a visit by US President Barack Obama on April the 21st to Riyadh, where he'll attend a summit with the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

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