TEHRAN: Chinese and Russian warships have entered Iranian territorial waters for a joint naval exercise with Iran, state media reported Tuesday.

This year’s manoeuvres come with Middle East tensions soaring in the face of the Israel-Hamas war that has drawn in Iranian allies around the region, including Yemen’s Huthi rebels who have launched a campaign of attacks on commercial shipping in Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, drawing Western reprisals.

“The naval units of China and Russia entered the territorial waters of our country to take part in the combined maritime exercise,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported. The manoeuvres, aimed at “jointly maintaining regional maritime security”, will begin in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday night, IRNA said, citing their spokesman, Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoddini.

The Chinese defence ministry said it had sent a destroyer, a frigate and a supply ship to take part in the joint exercise.

Russian state media reported that a detachment of ships from the country’s Pacific Fleet, led by the cruiser Varyag, docked in the Iranian port of Chabahar on Monday ahead of the drills.

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