Greece and the United Arab Emirates have begun joint air force training exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, in the latest build-up of military forces in the region where Greece and Turkey are at odds over seabed mineral rights.
The training flights started Friday, a day after the UAE completed the transfer of nine F-16 fighter jets and four transport planes to a Greek airbase on the island of Crete, the Greek Defense Ministry said.
In an escalating dispute, Greece and Turkey have led multiple military exercises in the area in recent weeks, with more to follow, after Turkey launched a survey mission in waters where Athens asserts jurisdiction.
Ankara argues that Greek islands shouldn't be included in calculating maritime areas where oil-and-gas can be exploited – a view opposed by most Western allies.
France, Italy, and the UAE have joined recent military exercises and training missions held by Greece and ally Cyprus, while the United States has also held separate exercises with Greece.