Iran kicked off its annual military drill on Monday, 22 January, near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz and issued warnings to two Western warships sailing in the region. The two-day manoeuvres, codenamed Mohammad Rasoulallah, would involve ground, aerial and naval forces of Iran.

The Strait of Hormuz is a key waterway for oil transports and has also been a source tension between the US forces and Iran in the past. Covering an area of three million square kilometres, the drills take place in Iran's south and southeast.

"Iranian drones identified the vessels, then Iranian planes flew over them and gave them a warning. The vessels left the area," said Rear Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi, spokesman for the exercises. Those two battleships are thought to be part of the US-led coalition patrolling the region.

Rockets and missiles were also fired on the first day of exercise as simulated enemy targets were destroyed. Mock enemy vessels, which were attempted to enter Iranian waters, were also countered during the drill.

Still, the theocratic nation's influential Revolutionary Guard, which wields an enormous influence in Iran, is not part of the event. Iran said these exercises are meant to step up the combat readiness of the troops.

American forces and Iranian armed personnel have confronted in the region previously and the region has witnessed some high-decibel tensions especially when the long-running negotiations over the nuclear deal was at crucial phases. The US President Donald Trump had previously issued sharp warnings to Iranian forces whenever there is an incident.

Iran military drill
One of the five military vessels from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps that approached a U.S. warship hosting one of America's top generals on a day trip through the Strait of Hormuz is pictured in this July 11, 2016, handout photo US Navy via Reuters