RIYADH, Feb 28, (Agencies): Armed forces from 20 countries have begun manoeuvres in northeastern Saudi Arabia that the official Saudi Press Agency described as one of the world’s biggest military exercises.
Troops from Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Sudan are among those participating in the “Thunder of the North” exercise, which began on Saturday and involves ground, air and naval forces, SPA reported. Forces from the other five Gulf Arab states are also taking part in “one of the world’s most important military exercises based on the number of forces participating and the area of territory used,” the news agency added.
It said a major goal of the exercise was to improve training in responding to the threat posed by “terrorist groups.” Saudi Arabia has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria as part of a US-led coalition fighting the jihadists. 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.
Saudi Arabia’s police say a member of the kingdom’s anti-terrorism force has been murdered and that six of his relatives are wanted in connection with his death.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement late Saturday that Sgt. Badr Hamdi al-Rashidi was a member of Saudi Arabia’s Special Emergency Force in the kingdom’s central Qassim region.
The official Saudi Press Agency carried the statement, which said six of his relatives took advantage of family links to draw him to a remote area and kill him.
The Interior Ministry released the suspects’ photos, names and ages, which range from 18 to 32. The ministry statement did not say what the motive might have been.