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Iran targets mock US aircraft carrier in Gulf exercises

This handout photo shows a mockup US aircraft carrier encircled by Iranian speedboats during a military exercise near the Strait of Hormuz. – AFP

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards blasted a mock-up of a US aircraft carrier with missiles yesterday during military exercises in sensitive Gulf waters, state television said. The exercises were held near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane for a fifth of global oil output. They were staged at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and its decades-old arch enemy the United States.

Footage of the war games broadcast on state television showed the Guards’ air and naval forces readying for an attack off the country’s southwest coast. Speedboats skimmed across the water in formation before ground forces fired cannons and a missile was launched from a helicopter. The mock-up of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier came into view with rows of dummy fighter jets on either side of its landing strip.

The television then cut to rockets being fired out to sea from the backs of trucks, before showing damage to the hull of the mock-up aircraft carrier. Another missile fired from a helicopter left a trail of smoke before appearing to smash into the side of the fake warship. Armed forces were then seen rappelling onto the deck of the vessel, before around a dozen speedboats circle around it.

“What was shown today in these exercises, at the level of aerospace and naval forces, was all offensive,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami told state television. The war games come only days after Tehran accused US fighter jets of harassing an Iranian commercial airliner in the skies over Syria. At least four passengers on board the Mahan Air plane were injured in Thursday’s incident, after the pilot took emergency action to avoid the warplanes.

Tensions have escalated between Iran and the United States since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal in 2018. The arch foes have come to the brink of war twice since June 2019, when the Guards shot down a US drone in the Gulf. Their animosity deepened after Iran’s most prominent general, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January. One of the most recent confrontations was in mid-April, when the United States accused the Guards of using speedboats to harass its warships in the Gulf. – AFP

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