21:31 GMT14 May 2021
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    The drills took place amid simmering tensions between Washington and Tehran, with the US sending a carrier battle group into the Middle East last month and threatening to sail it into the Persian Gulf, claiming the deployment was a response to intelligence about an alleged Iranian threat to US interests in the region.

    The USS Abraham Lincoln, multiple fighter jets and helicopters and a B-52 strategic bomber have carried out joint exercises in the Arabian Sea, the US Air Force has said in a statement.

    According to the USAF, the drills, which took place Saturday, "simulated strike operations," and involved carrier-based F/A-18 Super Hornets, MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters and E-2D Growlers, with the aircraft simulating missions with the B-52, which is a nuclear-capable long-range bomber.

    Tensions between Iran and the US escalated last month, with the US deploying a carrier strike group, strategic bombers and Patriot missile defence batteries to the region amid alleged "deep and serious" intelligence on threats posed by Iran against the US and its interests in the region.

    US-Iranian relations began to deteriorate significantly starting in May 2018, when the US unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and slapped Tehran with a series of crippling sanctions. 

    On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US would be willing to talk to Iran when it began behaving "like a normal nation." The Iranian Foreign Ministry accused Pompeo of "playing with words" and said that a change in conduct, and not just rhetoric, was necessary for "for any talks to take place." Earlier this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran would be willing to engage in dialogue with the US if Washington showed Iran respect and followed international rules.


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    exercise, simulated attack, drills, B-52, USS Abraham Lincoln, US Air Force, Arabian Sea, Iran, US
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