A group of kids of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pose for a photograph with a cleric while waiting to perform at a pro-regime protest rally in southern Tehran, December 29, 2022. Pro-government protest rally held in support of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and in opposition to recent unrest following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 21-year-old Iranian-Kurd. REUTERS./

 – Iran held joint naval, air, and ground exercises in the Persian Gulf on Friday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway, state media reported.

The drills involve submarines and drones “practising information-gathering operations against attacking forces, as well as reconnaissance operations,” Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told the official IRNA news agency.

The exercises, code named Zolfaghar-1401, were launched overnight Friday in the eastern side of the strait in the Gulf of Oman.

Tehran, which opposes the presence of U.S. and Western navies in the area, holds annual war games in the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for some 30% of all crude oil traded by sea.

Sayyari said foreign forces must leave the area “so that regional countries can establish stability and peace in their neighbourhood,” the English-language state-run Press TV reported.

([email protected]; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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