US: Iran readying massive military exercise in Persian Gulf

US: Iran readying massive military exercise in Persian Gulf

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard is expected to begin a major naval exercise as soon as the next two days that could demonstrate its ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, the chief spokesman for US Central Command, Capt. William Urban, said.

"We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways," CNN cited Urban as saying.

The Strait of Hormuz links the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. The US Energy Information Administration calls it "the world's most important oil transit chokepoint," with 20% of oil traded worldwide moving through the waterway, which is about 30 miles wide at its narrowest point.

As of now, the US assesses the IRGC has assembled a fleet of more than 100 boats, many of them small, fast-moving vessels. It's expected Iranian air and ground assets including coastal defensive missile batteries could be involved.

Hundreds of Iranian troops are expected to participate and some regular Iranian forces could be involved as well.