x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

GCC forces in military exercises

The GCC's joint military force will conduct air, ground and naval exercises in the Gulf next week, reports say.

DUBAI // The GCC's joint military force will conduct air, ground and naval exercises in the Gulf next week, reports say.

The nations that make up the Peninsula Shield Force will conduct war-game exercises called "Islands of Loyalty" on Sunday and Monday, the state news agency Wam reported yesterday.

"The Peninsula Shield Force will test the harmony and coordination among ground, air and naval forces and their readiness," Wam said.

It added the force would test its members' ability to carry out "special, limited and major missions along coasts and islands within the territorial waters". There were no further details.

Peninsula Shield, which has carried out routine multilateral exercises since 1983, said next week's exercises were part of their continuing cooperation.

The force, comprising up to 30,000 troops, was founded in 1982 and consists of elements from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE.

The exercises follow a diplomatic furore over the recent visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Musa, widely condemned by Arab and western states.

Iran invaded and occupied Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs in 1971.

This week, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) underlined the strategic importance of the islands to Iran.

He added that the republic had deployed forces and equipment to defend them this week.

"Various types of offensive and defensive systems, including brigades of IRGC marines, have been deployed in the Iranian islands, especially in Abu Musa, the Lesser Tunb and the Greater Tunb," Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of IRGC Naval Forces, said on Monday.

amustafa@thenational.ae