The Jordanian military announced Sunday the launch of the “Eager Lion” military exercise, with ground, naval and air forces from 33 countries including the United States, France and Britain.

The drills, set to end on May 23, include anti-terrorism and air defense training, army spokesman Colonel Mustafa al-Hiyari told a news conference.

He said that “Eager Lion” is intended to help fight “terrorist organizations” and respond to “the proliferation of drones, and biological, chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction” as well as major disasters.

Forces from “10 Arab and 22 foreign countries in addition to Jordan” are taking part, Hiyari said, aiming “to confront the emerging and cross-border threats of this era.”

The exercise, “the largest” since the first “Eager Lion” edition in 2011 according to Hiyari, comes at a time of soaring regional tensions as the Israel-Hamas war rages in the Gaza Strip.

But the spokesman said that “these drills have nothing to do with regional developments.”

He did not specify the number of troops participating.

Some of the countries participating include Poland, Norway, Romania, Japan and Australia alongside several Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon.

The previous “Eager Lion” exercise in September 2022 included some 2,200 Jordanian soldiers, 1,700 from the US and a total of 400 more from 27 other countries.

Jordan in 1994 signed a peace treaty with neighbouring Israel, and is a key regional ally for Washington, which has forces in the Middle East as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition.

With AFP