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Iran begins war games near the Strait of Hormuz

Iran's state news agency reported that the games will cover a 400,000-square-mile area and will test out combat ships, surface-to-air missiles and reconnaissance methods.

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Iran's navy began war games Friday near the Strait of Hormuz, a major petrol shipping area. (Ahmad Jafari/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran's navy has begun war games Friday in the Gulf of Oman, next to the sensitive waterway the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran's state news agency reported that the games will cover a 400,000-square-mile area and will test out combat ships, surface-to-air missiles and reconnaissance methods.

The New York Times reportedthat Iranian officials have said the show of strength were to display the power of their armed forces as well as being a message of friendship to the country's neighbors.

"Among the aims of the drill is to display the capabilities of Iran's Armed Forces and the Navy to defend our country's water borders and interests in line with establishing durable security in the region and conveying the message of peace and friendship to the neighboring states," said Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari,according to the Fars News Agency.

Iran has previously threatened that any military action against its nuclear facilities may mean closing the Strait - a move that would likely mean a spike in oil prices.

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Reuters reported that Iran conducted a similar 10-day drill last December and sent a submarine and destroyer into the Persian Gulf.

US and other navies have been conducting exercises in the region to keep the Strait, where it is estimated that 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass, open.

Navy spokesman Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari denied that the most recent exercise would block foreign vessels from entering the Strait.

"The Navy has issued no warnings (about the closure). Under international regulations, notification is to be sent to ships passing by during any military drill in order to prevent potential damage," Press TV quoted Rastegari as saying, according to TwoCircles.net.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/121229/iran-begins-war-games-near-the-strait-hormuz