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Saudi Press Agency

Brigadier Al-Asiri: 20 Arab and Islamic Countries Are Participating in North Thunder Drill

Saudi Press Agency

Monday 1437/5/27 - 2016/03/07

Hafr-el-Batin, Jumada I 27, 1437, Mar 7, 2016, SPA -- Spokesman of Coalition Forces, Advisor at Defense Minister's Office, Brigadier Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Asiri said that North Thunder military drill is currently held in Hafr-el-Batin in northern Saudi Arabia; where 20 Arab and Islamic countries are participating in order to ensure the readiness of their armed forces.

During a conference held today at the Northern Command at King Khalid Military Base in Hafr-el-Batin, Brigadier Al-Asiri said the military forces participating in the North Thunder drill include Arab, Islamic and friendly countries as well as the Peninsula Shield, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the fields of King Khalid Military City in Hafr-el-Batin.

'The drill includes helicopters and fighter jets targeting areas where ground forces engage with terrorist elements, in addition to saving members of the joint forces trapped in hostile areas, and clearing all enemy areas,' Al-Asiri added.

He stressed the importance of the military exercises in determining the readiness of the forces that aim at deterring all aspects affecting the security of participating countries in addition to fighting terrorist militias and elements in the region. Al-Asiri pointed out that the conference aims at giving a clear picture of the military drill.

Brigadier Al-Asiri said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the theater of North Thunder drill, noting that the arrival of troops to the theater of operations needs to organize time, transport, ports and airports. Al-Asiri also said that Dammam, Duba, and Jeddah ports, King Khalid Military City, King Saud Airbase, Riyadh Airport, road networks were used by military forces to reach the theater of operations.

The adviser at the Minister of Defense's office stated that the exercise and maneuvers carried out in North Thunder were carried out over a wide area to give experiences to the troops in mixed environments including four sectors (Hafr-el-Batin, Rafha, Arar and Tarif). Unprecedented and sophisticated methods of war tactics were applied using state of the art land, sea and air weapons and equipment.

He pointed out the success of the military operations carried out by all participating troops in continued exercises, including different times and geographical places to raise the readiness of their members and find out how efficient the diverse military mechanisms as well as to test the infrastructure of the host country of these joint exercises by the forces and its receiving of the large number of troops and military vehicles through its land, air and sea ports.

He pointed out that the exercises carried out since the start of the maneuvers were designed to address and deter militias and terrorist elements, and to reach the two phases of compatibility and integration among the participating countries' forces through exchange of military experience among them in order to reach the goal of unity and rapid presence to meet the request of any country to summon forces to intervene to save its security and that of the region.

Then, Spokesman of Coalition Forces, Advisor at Defense Minister's Office, Brigadier Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Asiri answered reporters' questions, noting that the exercise North Thunder has specific targets and should not be confused with what has been previously declared by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with regard to the Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, stressing that the Islamic coalition to fight terrorism was announced by the Deputy Crown Prince and it was clarified to the media that there are steps and a roadmap for the creation of the coalition as we approach the conference of chiefs of joint staff and then the defense ministers' conference and then, the Islamic coalition will be announced. We have already stated the names of the countries that have joined it and the countries that are still considering joining, noting that North Thunder has goals serving the objectives of the Islamic coalition to combat terrorism and that a large part of the countries participating in North Thunder are members of the future Islamic coalition.

He pointed out that in terms of the ground forces the work is joint and that all noted the presence of air and ground forces in the military operations that defeated the enemy and expelled it from the sites that were supposed to be occupied, so the exercise's hypothesis included the expansion of the exercise area serving the presence of large numbers of ground forces.

With regard to the Islamic coalition, Brigadier Al-Asiri confirmed that he has already covered this issue, saying that we have four key aspects of the fight against terrorism, they are the intellectual, media, financial and military aspects.

He noted that it is too early now to talk about specific cases, saying that we did not hold the conference of the chiefs of joint staff, which will discuss the operational concept of this coalition, its operation mechanism and how to deal with the threats and initiatives that will be submitted by the member countries and tackling them throughout the Islamic coalition efforts coordination centre.

He reiterated that it is too early to talk about specific cases while we have not yet determined the concept that we will work on at the conference of the chiefs of joint staff.

Brigadier Al-Asiri confirmed that everyone knows Iran's political behavior in the region, saying that Iran is the first country that invented the pro-Iranian Hezbollah and al-Huthi militias and the militias in Iraq and Syria that are killing the Syrian people; all of these militias are supported by Iran.

'This is a kind of blatant interference in the internal affairs of the neighboring countries and in the Gulf countries' he said, pointing out that Iran is a neighboring country and coexistence with it is a demand by all according to the international order and respect of countries.

He explained that there is a difference between organizations and coalitions, as coalitions are mostly a military grouping to carry out a specific job; coalitions' integration with the United Nations is mostly essential. This kind of coalitions seek to obtain legitimacy for their military work through the UN Security Council, as is happening today in Renewal of Hope's operations in Yemen, in accordance with the UN resolution 2216.

He said that the sent massage is that the Islamic countries are working together, and today we have twenty Islamic countries carrying out this exercise. There are determination and desire to have peace and security prevailing in the region through all means, including the military means.

On the exercise, he indicated that he did not speak about the work in the environment of the terrorist organizations. Daash may be on the list and we have other organizations and militias in the region. Militias are outlaws and should not be left to impose its influence over the state's authority.

Brigadier Al-Asiri stressed that North Thunder Drill is to be evaluated and lessons learned from it and if the participating countries feel that there is a need to repeat it, then the kingdom welcomes this kind of exercise, pointing out that any country wishing to join the exercise is welcome.

--SPA
23:49 LOCAL TIME 20:49 GMT



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