DUBAI - The naval force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has held exercises to test new equipment and battle tactics in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Iranian media reported on Sunday.

The drills tested the IRGC naval force's combat-readiness, speed in responding to natural disasters and familiarity with new weapons, the Fars news agency reported.

They were the fifth such tactical exercises held by the force and took place near Bandar Abbas, a Gulf port on Iran's southern coast, Fars said. It did not say when they took place.

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Iran's regular navy, separate from the IRGC's naval branch, held drills in the Gulf in late December and early January meant to showcase the country's military capabilities in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports passes.

Iranian officials have often said Iran could block the strait if it came under military attack over its disputed nuclear program, and a heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf is meant to deter any such move.

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