Riyadh // Armed forces from 20 countries have begun manoeuvres in northeastern Saudi Arabia, described by the official Saudi Press Agency as one of the world’s biggest military exercises.
Troops from the other five Gulf Arab states – the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar – as well as Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Sudan are among those participating in the Ra’ad Al Shamal, or Northern Thunder, exercise, Spa agency reported.
The military drill – which began on Saturday and involves ground, air and naval forces – will be “one of the world’s most important military exercises based on the number of forces participating and the area of territory used”, the agency said.
It said a major goal of the exercise was to improve training in responding to the threat posed by “terrorist groups”.
Riyadh previously has described the joint exercise as a "clear message" that the coalition of Muslim-majority countries from Africa and the wider Middle East "stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region".
Saudi Arabia has carried out air strikes against ISIL in Syria as part of a US-led coalition fighting the extremist group.
Last December, it also formed a new 35-member alliance to fight terrorism in Islamic countries.
Since last March, it has been leading a military campaign against Iran-backed rebels in its southern neighbour Yemen.
* Agence France-Presse