Iran Denies Blocking Strait of Hormuz
MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) - Iran has rejected Western media reports it is planning to close the Strait of Hormuz during six-day naval drills.
The Iranian Navy launched the exercise on Friday in the Strait of Hormuz rehearsing border protection and piracy control operations. The drills, dubbed Velayat 91, will be carried out in the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman, the northern portion of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, Navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said.
Navy spokesman Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari denied media reports that the Navy has issued any warning to foreign vessels.
"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 him as saying.
The aim of the drill is to "convey a message of peace and friendship to neighboring states," Navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said. Velayat 91 also sends a message to Iran's enemies that the country takes defending its vital interests very seriously, he added.
During the drills, Iran's 23rd Fleet, comprised of the Bushehr warship and the Jamaran destroyer, will escort Iran's merchant vessels and oil tankers as part of the navy's anti-piracy mission.
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