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Israel, US to hold key missile exercise

JERUSALEM (PTI): Israel and the United States are set to conduct a crucial joint missile defence exercise to simulate a response in the event of war between Israel, Iran, Syria and Lebanon, amid growing tensions between Tel Aviv and Tehran over the Islamic nations nuclear ambition, according to a news report.

The Juniper Cobra exercise will include the Arrow missile defence system as well as three American systems - the THAAD, Aegis and PAC-3 - that will all be deployed in Israel for the duration of the exercise.

The biennial exercise, which will begin on Monday and end on Friday, will simulate a response in the event of war between Israel, the Islamic republic, Syria and Hizbullah, The Jerusalem Post said on Sunday.

More than 1,000 American troops from the European Command in Stuttgart, Germany have been deployed in Israel for the exercise - mostly in the Negev - in addition to some 15 missile ships, some of them carrying the Aegis ballistic missile defence system, the report in the Israeli daily said.

The exercise comes amid growing tensions between Israel and Iran over the Islamic nations nuclear ambition.

Iranian cleric Mojtaba Zolnour, who is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the Revolutionary Guard, warned that Tehran will respond decisively if any Israeli or American missile lands in Iran.

"Should a single American or Zionist missile land in our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel," Zolnour was quoted as saying by the state IRNA news agency.

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