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Iran fires long-range missiles into Indian Ocean in military drill

Republic of Iran Navy naval drill "Force-99" at Sea of Oman on January 14, 2021 [IRANIAN ARMY/Anadolu Agency]
Republic of Iran Navy naval drill "Force-99" at Sea of Oman on January 14, 2021 [IRANIAN ARMY/Anadolu Agency]

Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Saturday fired long-range ballistic missiles into the Indian Ocean on the second day of a military exercise, state media reported, reports Reuters.

The drill, which comes in the waning days of high tensions with US President Donald Trump's administration, was conducted in the country's central desert region.

It followed Friday's testing of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and locally manufactured new drones in the same area.

"One of our most important defence policy goals is to use long-range ballistic missiles against enemy warships, including aircraft carriers and warships," state media quoted Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami as saying.

With these missiles, which have a range of 1,800 kilometres, he said, "we can now strike moving targets in the ocean," instead of the usual low-speed cruise missiles.

READ: US imposes fresh sanctions on Iran in final days of Trump presidency

Saturday's drill targets were in the Gulf of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean.

Chief of Staff General Mohammad Baqeri said while Iran had "no offensive intentions", it would now be able to "respond to any hostile and malicious activity in the shortest time".

On Wednesday, Iran tested a short-range naval missile in the Gulf and there were exercises earlier this month that featured a wide array of domestically produced drones.

Iran has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, regarding them as a deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States and other adversaries in the event of war.

There have been periodic confrontations between Iran's military and US forces in the Gulf since 2018 when Trump abandoned Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reinstated harsh sanctions against Tehran.

President-elect Joe Biden has said the United States will rejoin the nuclear deal "if Iran resumes strict compliance".

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