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Amerika tunjuk kekuatan di Teluk

US in Gulf show of force

March 27 - The US navy has begun its largest demonstration of force in the Gulf since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The exercises, just off the coast of Iran, involve more than 10,000 US personnel.

Kevin Aandahl, a US navy commander, declined to say when plans for the exercises had been drawn up.

The manoeuvres bring together two strike groups of US warships and more than 100 aircraft to conduct simulated air warfare in and above the crowded Gulf shipping lanes.

Military exercises involve the USS John C Stennis and the USS Dwight D Eisenhower, marking the first time that the two strike groups have operated in a joint exercise under the Fifth Fleet, the navy said.

"Two air wings from the aircraft carriers will conduct air warfare exercises while the surface components will conduct exercises in three general disciplines: anti-submarine, anti-surface and mine warfare," it said.

The Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, an island state that lies across the Gulf from Iran.

The US exercises come after Iran's capture, last week, of 15 British sailors and marines who had, Iran said, strayed into Iranian waters near the Gulf. Britain and the US navy have insisted the British sailors were operating in Iraqi waters.

Aandahl said the US manoeuvres were not meant to threaten the Islamic Republic, whose navy operates in the same waters.

Aandahl said the US warships would stay out of Iranian territorial waters, which extend 12 miles off the Iranian coast.

French presence

A French naval strike group, led by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, was operating simultaneously just outside the Gulf. But the French ships were supporting the Nato forces in Afghanistan and not taking part in the American manoeuvres, officials said.

Overall, the exercises involve more than 10,000 US personnel on warships and aircraft making simulated attacks on enemy shipping with aircraft and ships, hunting enemy submarines and finding mines. Agencies

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