U.S. and allies stage firing drill in show of force against North Korea

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Six military planes, including two heavy bombers from the United States, have flown over the Korean Peninsula and carried out a firing drill in the latest show of force against North Korea, U.S. officials say.

The mission took place on late Tuesday night when North Korea marked the 72nd founding anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Some observers were expecting North Korea to stage another provocation, but none were carried out.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) said on Wednesday that 2 B-1B strategic bombers flew over waters off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula. They were joined by 2 F-15K fighter jets from South Korea and 2 F-15 fighter jets from Japan.

The military planes staged a simulated air-to-ground missile firing drill over water, according to the Yonhap news agency, which cited South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. military would only confirm that the aircraft conducted training at night to demonstrate their combined capabilities.

“This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies anytime anywhere,” U.S. Air Force Major Patrick Applegate, of the 613th Air Operation Center, said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump met with members of his national security team to receive a briefing from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. The White House said the meeting focused on a range of options to respond to “aggression” and nuclear threats from North Korea.

A Russian lawmaker who went on a four-day visit to North Korea said late last week that the reclusive country was preparing to carry out another test of a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States. Foreign observers believe such a provocation is likely to happen some time this month.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been escalating for months, fueled by North Korea’s frequent missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and threatening statements by President Donald Trump.

North Korea test-fired two long-range missiles in July, including one which in theory is capable of reaching large parts of the U.S. mainland. North Korea also carried out its sixth and most advanced nuclear test to date on September 3, which led to a new round of sanctions.

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