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Iran Launches Air Defense Drill Amid Rising Regional Tensions, State Media Says

In this photo released by the Iranian Army on Jan. 19, 2024, a missile is launched during a military drill in southern Iran.
In this photo released by the Iranian Army on Jan. 19, 2024, a missile is launched during a military drill in southern Iran.

Iran said on Friday that it successfully carried out an air defense drill using drones designed to intercept hostile targets in an area stretching from its southwestern to southeastern coasts, amid heightened tensions in the region.

On Thursday Pakistan launched air strikes against what it said were separatist militants inside Iran in a retaliatory attack two days after Tehran said it struck the bases of another group within Pakistani territory.

The tit-for-tat strikes were the highest-profile cross-border intrusions in recent years and have raised alarm over wider instability in the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on October 7.

"Iranian forces have successfully launched a new air defense method that uses drones to intercept and target hostile targets," state-run Press TV quoted an Iranian army spokesperson as saying.

Regional Iran-linked Violence
Regional Iran-linked Violence

The two-day drills, which began Thursday, cover an area from Abadan in southwestern Khuzestan province to Chahbahar in southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Press TV said the army’s air force and navy, the aerospace force and the navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) participated in the exercises.

Iran and Pakistan have a history of rocky relations, but both have signaled a desire to cool tensions in the wake of this week's strikes.

Against the backdrop of the war in Gaza, Iran and its militia allies around the Middle East have been carrying out attacks on Israeli and U.S. targets in the region in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Iran has also launched strikes on Syria against what it said were Islamic State sites, and Iraq, where it said it had struck an Israeli espionage center.

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