RIYADH: Armed forces from around 20 countries including Pakistan and Malaysia are gathering in northern Saudi Arabia Sunday for "the largest, most important military manoeuvres" ever staged in the region, the official news agency SPA reported.

The "Thunder of the North" exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces sends a "clear message" that Riyadh and its allies "stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region", SPA said.

Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military campaign against Houthi rebels in its southern neighbour Yemen.

Related: Pakistan will not send ground troops as part of Saudi-led military alliance: Aziz

Last December, it also formed a new 35-member coalition to fight "terrorism" in Islamic countries. Sunday's announcement also comes as the kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group, said it has deployed war planes to a Turkish air base in order to “intensify” its operations against IS in Syria.

SPA did not specify when the military exercise will begin or how long it will last.

However, the agency called it the “most important and largest in the region's history” in terms of the number of nations taking part and the weaponry being used.

Twenty countries will be taking take part, SPA said. Among them are Saudi Arabia's five partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal and Tunisia, it added.

Also Read: Troops already in Saudi Arabia, says minister

A Saudi source said on Thursday that members of the new "anti-terrorism" coalition will gather in Saudi Arabia next month for its first publicly announced meeting.

Riyadh has said the alliance would share intelligence, combat violent ideology and deploy troops if necessary.

Opinion

Editorial

Silencing the public
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Silencing the public

Acting as if it is unaccountable, it is now curtailing citizens’ digital rights without even bothering to come up with a justification.
Fitch’s concern
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Fitch’s concern

It warns that “near-term political uncertainty may complicate the country’s efforts to secure a financing agreement with the IMF to succeed the Stand-by Arrangement”.
Zoo zealotry
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Zoo zealotry

IN a bizarre twist of faith and fur, the Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has...
Open the books
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

Open the books

Irregularities have been so widespread that even otherwise impartial observers are joining the chorus of voices demanding a recount.
BRICS candidacy
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

BRICS candidacy

For Pakistan to successfully join BRICS or compete in other arenas internationally, the political instability at home needs to be addressed.
Pneumonia menace
20 Feb, 2024

Pneumonia menace

PANIC is on the rise as the alarming surge in pneumonia cases has created an explosion of headlines — sans...