Iran’s navy has begun an annual drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.
Iranian state television quoted navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari on Sunday as saying the maneuver would cover an area of 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait.
Nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait, a narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean.
Iran has had several confrontations recently with US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the strait, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture last January of 10 US Navy sailors who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.
The latest drill, however, does not involve Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force the US Navy often criticizes for harassing its vessels.
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The move comes just two weeks after Western navies held a series of drills off the coast of Iran last week, in a show of force in light of increased Iranian harassment of foreign military vessels.
The exercises, dubbed “United Trident,” were led by the United Kingdom and included ships from the US, France and Australia. The navies practiced fighting off enemy aerial incursions and mine clearing, as well as live fire drills, according to the British daily Telegraph.
The final drill featured 13 ships from the allied navies sailing in formation, with helicopters flying overhead.
Last month, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was dismissive of the show of force close to Iranian waters, telling the semi-official Mehr news agency that “they talk a lot.”
He also warned the Western navies against encroaching on Iranian waters, saying, “This is our red line.”