20 nations join major military drill in Saudi

By AFP

Published: Sun 14 Feb 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 Feb 2016, 8:01 AM

Armed forces from around 20 countries were gathering in northern Saudi Arabia on Sunday for "the most important" military manoeuvre ever staged in the region, the news agency SPA reported.
The Thunder of the North exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces sends a "clear message" that Riyadh and its allies "stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region", SPA said.
Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military campaign against Houthis in its southern neighbour Yemen. Last December, it also formed a new 35-member coalition to fight "terrorism" in Islamic countries.
Sunday's announcement also comes as the kingdom, said it has deployed warplanes to a Turkish air base in order to "intensify" its operations against Daesh in Syria.
However, the agency called it the "most important and largest in the region's history" in terms of the number of nations taking part and the weaponry being used. Among them are Saudi Arabia's five partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal and Tunisia, it added.
A Saudi source said on Thursday that members of the new "anti-terrorism" coalition will gather in Saudi Arabia next month for its first publicly announced meeting.
Riyadh has said the alliance would share intelligence, combat violent ideology and deploy troops if necessary.




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