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The New Arab

Qatar, Turkey armed forces wrap up 'Iron Shield' joint war games

Over the past two months, Qatar has conducted five military exercises with its allies [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 7 August, 2017

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Qatari and Turkish forces have ended a joint military exercise near Doha as a diplomatic crisis involving the gas-rich emirate and its neighbours shows no signs of abating.

Qatari and Turkish forces have ended a joint military exercise near Doha as a diplomatic crisis involving the gas-rich emirate and its neighbours shows no signs of abating.

Ground troops from both countries ended the two-day exercise, dubbed "Iron Shield", on Sunday at the headquarters of the Qatar Emiri Land Force, north of the capital.

"The exercise was designed to train ground forces to defend the land of the state and its vital facilities," Lieutenant Colonel Nawaf bin Mubarak al-Thani said, according to the Qatari News Agency.

Brigadier Hadi Rashid al-Shahwani, commander of the exercise, said that the drills included training commanders to coordinate between the two forces to repel any "infiltrations" and take back key positions.

The exercise was also carried out to support counter-terrorism efforts, tackle smuggling and maintain security in the region, QNA reported.

The exercises come as Ankara presses on with its backing of Doha in a crisis triggered by the political and economic isolation of Qatar by Gulf and other Arab states.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their rival Iran.

Doha categorically denies the claims and has been strongly backed by Ankara throughout the standoff.

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as it seeks to balance its strategic alliance with Qatar with preserving its own relations with regional kingpin Saudi Arabia.

Turkey is setting up a military base in Qatar. It has sped up the process since the crisis began and reportedly now has around 250 troops at the base.

Over the past two months, Qatar has conducted five military exercises with its allies, including the United States Navy and the United Kingdom's Royal Navy.

The Saudi-led bloc boycotting Doha have issued the emirate a list of demands to lift the blockade which includes shutting down Turkey's military base.

Doha and Ankara have rejected the demand to close the base, which is Turkey's first military installation in the Middle East.

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