Tri-Nation Naval drill “Marine Security Belt 2024” in the Gulf of Oman showcases ships from Iran, Russia, and China

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Warships attend the Maritime Security Belt 2024 international naval exercise of Russia, China and Iran in the Gulf of Oman in this handout image obtained on March 12, 2024. Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Joint naval exercises involving China, Iran, and Russia commenced in the Gulf of Oman, a strategically vital waterway near the entrance of the Arabian Gulf, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Footage aired by Chinese state television and a video released by the Russian navy showcased the ongoing drill, dubbed “Marine Security Belt 2024.” China deployed the guided-missile destroyer Urumqi and the guided-missile frigate Linyi, while Russia’s forces are led by the Varyag, a Slava-class cruiser.

Iran, Russia and China show off their ships in a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Oman

More than 20 ships, including support vessels and combat boats from the three nations, along with naval helicopters, are participating in the exercise.

Iran, Russia and China show off their ships in a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Oman

According to a report by Iranian state television, Adm. Mostafa Tajaddini, the spokesperson for the drill, stated that the exercise would cover 17,000 square kilometers (6,600 square miles) of water. Tajaddini emphasized that the joint drill, the fourth of its kind since 2019, aims to enhance trade, counter piracy and terrorism, support humanitarian efforts, and facilitate information exchange for rescue operations, among other objectives.

Iran has intensified military collaboration with Beijing and Moscow in response to heightened regional tensions with the United States, exacerbated by Iran supplying military drones to Russia for use in the conflict in Ukraine.

Iran, Russia and China show off their ships in a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Oman

Observing the drill are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, and South Africa.

The Gulf of Oman has witnessed a series of attacks since 2019, which the US has attributed to Iran, along with ship seizures by Tehran, following the collapse of the nuclear deal with world powers. Approximately a fifth of global oil trade passes through the narrow mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, situated in the Arabian Gulf.