Saudi, French special forces hold joint drills near Lille: Report
French troops engage in joint drills with Saudi forces on the outskirts of the northeastern French city of Lille (Photo by alsharq.net.sa)
Special Forces units with the Saudi and French armies have partaken in joint military drills in France.
The exercise engaged the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ crack unit brigade and its French counterpart in the town of Meer, London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Citing the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA ), the paper said the maneuvers had started last week.
The news comes only three days after the kingdom’s navy finished 10 days of live-fire military exercises in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.
The seaborne drills involved warships, speedboats, marines and special forces in the strategic waters.
The SPA alleged that the maneuvers sought to test combat readiness “in preparation for the protection of the marine interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any possible aggression.”
France is known for its close relations with Saudi Arabia. The two sides have been seeking to boost their military ties in recent months.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s defense minister and most powerful figure after the monarch, has twice traveled to France since 2015.
During Salman’s visit to France last June, Paris and Riyadh reportedly sealed military deals worth up to USD 12 billion for the delivery of modern weaponry to the Arab kingdom amid Riyadh’s deadly military campaign against Yemen.
The prince paid another visit to France in July this year, in what was widely seen as an attempt to finalize the agreements reached with Paris the previous year.
Last year, the Paris government raised controversy by closing off a French beach for a visit by Saudi King Salman.