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Iran holds naval parade in Persian Gulf

January 9, 2021 GMT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Saturday held a naval parade in the Persian Gulf, state TV reported, amid heightened regional tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The naval rally was performed near Iran’s Farsi Island, where Iranian forces in January 2016 seized two U.S. navy boats and 10 crew members for less than a day. State TV said the maneuver was held to coincide with the anniversary of the seizure.

Footage showed scores of vessels took part in the maneuver. State TV said hundreds of boats participated.

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Last week, Iran seized a South Korean oil tanker and its crew members in the Gulf, and continues to hold the vessel at an Iranian port. The Islamic Republic has apparently sought to increase its leverage over Seoul ahead of negotiations over billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks, amid a U.S. pressure campaign targeting Iran.

Iran similarly seized a British-flagged oil tanker in 2019 and held it for months after one of its tankers was held off Gibraltar.

Iran periodically holds military maneuvers in the Gulf waters and elsewhere in the country, which it says aim to improve the readiness of its armed forces. On Tuesday, Iran held a massive drone-only drill coordinated across different parts of the country.