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Israel, US conclude massive joint military exercise

Jerusalem: Israeli and US army concluded a joint exercise simulating the defence of Israel from surface-to-surface missile attack, the Israeli military has said.

The Juniper Falcon 19 exercise, which was held from February 10-14, involved the US European Command and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Xinhua reported.

According to a statement by the Israeli army, more than 300 US troops participated in the exercise alongside some 400 IDF soldiers.

“The Juniper Falcon 19 exercise was conducted as part of the joint annual training plan and signified the deep strategic partnership between the two militaries,” the statement said on Thursday.

During the exercise, the forces simulated receiving a US heavy-lift aircraft, deploying the infrastructure and employing shared teleprocessing and communications systems, it added.

The Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported that the exercise created a scenario under which an Israeli airstrike on an Iranian site in Syria or Lebanon triggers a missile attack and the United States is called to help.

“This year’s exercise focused specifically on our ability to rapidly deploy and integrate forces with the IDF,” said Jeffrey L. Harrigian, Deputy Commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa.

Juniper Falcon is an annual joint exercise between Israeli and US forces.

This year’s drill took place amid heightened regional tensions over the US plan to withdraw all forces from Syria, Israel’s northern neighbour.

Israel has become increasingly concerned about the presence of Iranian forces in war-torn Syria, where they fight alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israel sees Iran as its arch-enemy and has carried out hundreds of deadly airstrikes in Syria, saying the attacks target Iranian sites in the country.

IANS

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