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Iran kicks off 2nd air defense drill with bombers, drones, laser-guided missiles

Exercise comes just over a week after army, Revolutionary Guard carried out massive maneuvers in the desert amid regional tensions

In this photo released on May 21, 2021, by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a new Gaza drone is displayed in an undisclosed location in Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)
In this photo released on May 21, 2021, by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a new Gaza drone is displayed in an undisclosed location in Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran  — Iran on Thursday kicked off an air force drill across the country, a week after holding another massive exercise in air defense, state TV reported.

The report said bombers, jet fighters, and attack and surveillance drones will participate in the drill, using heavy weapons including laser-guided missiles.

It said all Iranian military air bases will participate in the maneuver. Reportedly, Iran has 12 air bases.

The report did not say how long the drill will last.

It came a week after Iran held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert, with both the army and the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard taking part.

Iran regularly holds such drills and says they assess the troops’ combat readiness and demonstrate the nation’s military capabilities.

Illustrative: Troops participate in a military drill in Iran, January 20, 2021 (Iranian Army via AP)

The region remains on edge over Iran’s escalating nuclear program.

The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East.

With Vienna talks stalled, Iran has breached limits set by the nuclear deal and is enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity as its stockpile continues to grow. Iran claims its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

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