All four branches of the Iranian army hold annual military exercises along the country's southern and south-eastern areas, starting on the evening of December 29.
“The annual army exercise will be held in the Jask region, extending to the east of the Strait of Hormuz to 10th parallel eastward to the north of the Indian Ocean,” Deputy Commander of the Army Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
The admiral said that the aims of Zolfaghar-1401 (2022) Joint Exercise is “to increase the preparedness of the troops, which include the infantry, armored, mechanized units of the ground forces, defense systems of the air defense force, subsurface, surface, flying vessels and rangers of the army navy with strategic fighter jets support”.
The drills also aim to improve the skill of conducting operations in special conditions, such as contaminated environment with chemical, microbial and nuclear materials, electronic warfare and difficult weather conditions.
The Khatam ol-Anbia Joint Air Defense Base, which brings together forces from the army and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), will take part in the drills. The strategic bombers of the Air Force will also be deployed.
Sayyari said that "the message" of the drills is to "remind the countries in the region of the regional capacities derived from the principle of working together for peace without the need for foreigners".
"The other message is to show the ineffectiveness of arms embargoes against Iran," he added.
The Deputy Commander stressed that "peace and security will return" to the Middle East after outsiders, "particularly the US and Britain", leave.
The IRGC barred two American cruisers from entering the Persian Gulf on December 5. During the incident, the IRGC reportedly deployed the missile boat Habib Rouhi, which is capable of firing missiles with a 300 km range, according to IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri.
Earlier on December 6, the US announced that an IRGC patrol boat tried to temporarily blind US Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz by shining a spotlight toward the vessels from a distance of 140 meters.
In late November, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for Iran’s naval forces to expand their reach and capabilities in international waters and high seas.
"It is necessary to comprehensively improve the navy’s combat power and defense equipment while continuing measures such as sailing in distant and international waters," he said.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited the second marine area of Bandar-e Jask in the southern province of Hormozgan on November 27, to participate in the naval parade of the Iranian Army on the occasion of Navy Day.
The units participating in the parade were the Ghadir and Fateh submarines, the helicopter squadron, the Sahand and Alborz destroyers, the Fajr and Sirik frigates, the Tonb cruiser, the Hormuz-class landing craft, and the Ghadir and Sirik frigates.
In recent years, Persian Gulf waters have witnessed attacks on tankers that have come at times of heightened regional tensions with Iran. On November 22, the US Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet published photos and details of its investigation into the attack on the Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon tanker, including debris from the Shahed-136 drone itself.