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Morocco, US agree to hold annual African lion military exercises in June

Morocco and the US agreed to hold their annual military drills, the African lion, in June after they have been delayed due to the coronavirus.

A US military delegation has inspected together with the Moroccan army locations of the all-terrain military exercises, which are expected to bring together 10,000 troops from the two countries as well as Tunisia and Senegal.

The drills have been organized on a regular basis since 2003 with the aim of enhancing the inter-operability of the participating troops.

Preparations for this year’s edition of the African lion started in November when Major Gen. Andrew Rohling, deputy commanding general of US Army Europe –Africa, and Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, Royal Armed Forces Southern Zone Commander met in Agadir to discuss plans amid uncertainties created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The high-ranking officers agreed that the African Lion exercise, scheduled for June, “represents a chance to show the continued strong strategic partnership between the United States and Morocco, even as both countries face COVID-19,” according to a statement by the Southern European Task Force – Africa.

Morocco is the largest buyer of US arms in Africa. The two countries are bound by a strategic military cooperation agreement that runs until 2030.

Morocco operates a series of cutting-edge US-made weapons including F-16 fighter jets and Abram tanks and plans to buy Apache attack helicopters. A US official report has recently confirmed an order by Morocco to buy Patriot air defense missiles.

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