As it launches a three-day military exercise

Iran on Thursday began a major three-day military exercise in Persian Gulf waters but preceded the manoeuvres by offering an olive branch to neighbouring Arab countries, many of whom are close American allies.

Brigadier General Ali-Reza Tangsiri, the spokesman of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Thursday invited “several regional countries” to participate in the military exercises in the future. A day earlier, the IRGC deputy commander, Brigadier Hossein Salami said: “Peace and friendship, security, tranquility and mutual trust are the message of this war game for neighbouring countries in the Persian Gulf region.”

The exercise code-named Payambar-e Azam 5 (The Great Prophet 5), in which all three services are participating, is aimed at preserving the security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the world's key economic and energy routes, Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency (FNA) reported. The navy is set to demonstrate its fire-power by launching a variety of domestically built missiles.

According Iran's state-run broadcaster, Press TV, the indigenously built sonar-evading vessel, Ya Mahdi, participated in the drill. The Ya Mahdi vessels are apparently remote-controlled and can launch high-intensity rockets.

More than 300 vessels are participating in the major exercise, which coincides with the thirty-first anniversary of the IRGC's formation.

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