The exercises, which included long-range ballistic missiles and drones, sent two US bases in Qatar and the UAE into high alert.
Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles have been a bone of contention between Tehran and its regional rivals, namely Saudi Arabia. In January, Iran responded to the US killing of general Qassem Soleimani by launching several rounds of ballistic missiles at US positions in Iraq, causing some material damage and injuring some troops.
“At approximately 5:30 a.m. local time, Iran launched several ballistic missiles from Iran to the southern Arabian Gulf. Initial assessment indicated a potential threat to Al Udeid Air Base and Al Dhafra Air Base,” said Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command, which oversees US military missions throughout the region. “Out of an abundance of caution, both bases enacted a heightened alert status. The incident lasted for a matter of minutes, and an all clear was declared after the threat indicator had passed.”
Personnel at Al Udeid and Al Dhafra were ordered to take cover for several minutes until an all-clear was sounded. No missile approached the area, officials said.
The Strait of Hormuz has been a flashpoint of tensions between the US and Iran since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018. Some 20% of the world’s traded oil passes through the strategic waterway.
“We cannot speak to what Iran hopes to gain by building this mockup, or what tactical value they hope to gain by using such a mock-up in a training or offensive exercise scenario,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the US Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain. “We remain confident in our naval forces’ ability to defend themselves against any maritime threat.”
Iranian military spokesman Brigadier General Abbas Niliforoushan said the drills promoted “combat readiness” aimed at safeguarding air and sea lanes and providing support and “readiness for every scenario.”
The drill comes days after a US fighter jet flew within a few thousand feet of an Iranian commercial aircraft over Syria to inspect it. The US said the passenger plan had flown outside a normal commercial flight corridor.
Source : Cnn