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Iran holds funeral for 19 sailors killed in missile strike during training exercise

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In this Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, photo made available by U.S. Navy, a helicopter lifts off of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as it transits the Strait of Hormuz.
In this Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, photo made available by U.S. Navy, a helicopter lifts off of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as it transits the Strait of Hormuz.   -   Copyright  Stephanie Contreras/AP
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Iran held a funeral Tuesday for 19 sailors killed when a missile fired during an Iranian military training exercise this week mistakenly struck a naval vessel, the state TV reported.

The ceremony took place at a naval base in the southwestern port city of Chahbahar, about 1,400 kilometres (875 miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran. Mourning families and relatives of the killed soldiers, along with military and government officials, attended the ceremony, the report said.

The bungled training exercises took place on Sunday in the waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The missile hit the navy vessel Konarak off the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman. The Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship taking part in the exercise, came too close to a target and the missile struck it, state TV had said. The Konarak had been putting targets out for other ships to attack.

Fifteen Iranian sailors were also wounded in the incident, which raised new questions about the readiness of the Islamic Republic’s armed forces amid heightened tensions with U.S., just months after they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner near Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.

Iran regularly holds exercises in the Gulf of Oman, which is close to the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil trade passes.

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers two years ago, launching a maximum pressure campaign against Iran that has recently pushed the two countries to the brink of an all-out conflict.