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Iran to hold air defence drill in country's east

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TEHRAN (AP): Iran's official news agency says the country's military will hold "massive" air defence manoeuvres in the east, starting this weekend.

Gen Farzad Esmaili, head of Iran's air defence headquarters, says the drill will include Iranian jet fighters, drones, air defence systems and about 8,000 troops.

Esmaili is quoted by the official IRNA news agency on today as saying that the area of the war games will cover nearly the entire eastern half of Iran. The exercise is to start on Saturday and last seven days.

The manoeuvres come amid escalating tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's suspect nuclear programme, which the West fears is a cover for a pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying the program is for peaceful purposes only.

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