The United States and Morocco on Monday, June 20 launched the vast annual “African Lion” military exercise, amid heightened tensions between the North African kingdom and neighbouring Algeria.
The exercise, which took off in the southern Moroccan region of Agadir, involves some 7500 personnel from 10 nations such as Brazil, France and the United Kingdom.
According to Major General Andrew Rohling, Commander of the U.S. Army’s Southern European Task Force Africa "It's an exercise that we have been planning for the last year, since the execution of African Lion 21, last year, our overall goal is to increase the cooperation between the countries of Africa, specifically West Africa, and strengthen our goals with Morocco.
It will include observers from NATO and for the first time, officials from Israel.
Some manoeuvres will take place in Tunisia, Senegal, and Ghana, US Africa Command said in a statement.
"The second activity consists of aerial manoeuvres with Moroccan and US fighter jets, with live fire too, with attack helicopters, so this aerial activity will be used for training aerial guidance officers." Colonel Hicham el-Amrani, commander of military operations in the Al Mahbes region said
Most will take place in Kenitra, near Rabat, but others will be near further south near the Algerian border, according to the Moroccan military.
The exercise is expected to last until the end of June.