U.S. Marines and a Israeli Soldiers Take Part in a Joint Urban Warfare Exercise

'We are willing to work and train together, and if God wills it, if we ever need to be side by side, then we will,' said U.S. Lieutenant-Colonel Marcus Mainz

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The Israeli military hosted U.S. Marines this week for an urban combat drill in a mock-up of a generic Middle East village, sharing know-how and signalling the allies' shared interests as their leaders close ranks on a host of regional issues.

"We are willing to work and train together, and if God wills it, if we ever need to be side by side, then we will," Lieutenant-Colonel Marcus Mainz of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit told Reuters during the exercise at Israel's Zeelim base.

His troops joined Israeli special forces regiments to practise battle formation, helicopter deployment and medical evacuations in a mock-up village in the desert, complete with Arabic graffiti and a fake mosque.

The manoeuvres were part of a wider, biennial joint air defence exercise known as Juniper Cobra, which this year took place amid heightenedIsraeli and U.S. concern over the missile arsenal of Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Mainz said his troops had learned from the Israelis' experiences in fighting Hamas guerrillas in Gaza, and had in turn shared tips from U.S. warfronts.

"They teach them what to see when they were either in the Gaza Strip or somewhere else on the battlefield, for us in Afghanistan and Iraq, and teach that young soldier what to look for," he said.

"And what happens is they start getting excited and they are talking about 'I learned this here', 'I learned that there'."

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has boosted its already strong support for Israel - including by recognising Jerusalem as theIsraeli capital, a move that angered many Muslims and Arabs who back the Palestinian claim on the city. 

U.S. Marines participate in Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Picture taken March 12, 2018.
U.S. Marines participate in Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Picture taken March 12, 2018. Credit: \ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS
Embargoed until March 13, 2018 - 15:00 GMT / A US army soldier of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim urban warfare training centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.
A US army soldier of Battalion Landing Team takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim, March 12, 2018.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
U.S. Marines participate in Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Picture taken March 12, 2018.
U.S. Marines participate in Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Credit: \ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS
U.S. Marine rests on the ground during Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Picture taken March 12, 2018.
U.S. Marine rests on the ground during Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Picture taken March 12, 2018. Credit: \ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS
An Israeli paratrooper takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim urban warfare training centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.
An Israeli paratrooper takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim urban warfare training centre base in southern Israel, March 12, 2018.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
A US MV-22B Ospreys takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim urban warfare training centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.
A US MV-22B Ospreys takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim urban warfare training centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
A US soldier from the United Stade Marine Corps (USMC) of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit launches an RQ-11 b Raven Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 3D model during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim urban warfare training centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.
U.S. Marine operates an unmanned aerial vehicle during Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israeli joint air defence exercise, in Zeelim, southern Israel, March 12, 2018. Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
A US army Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion (C) from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 of the USMC is seen during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim Urban Warfare Training Centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.
A US army Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion (C) from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) is seen during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim, March 12, 2018. Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
A member of the United Stade Marine Corps (USMC) of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim Urban Warfare Training Centre (UWTC) base in southern Israel on March 12, 2018.
A US army soldier of Battalion Landing Team takes part in training during the joint Israeli-US military "Juniper Cobra" exercise at the Tze'elim, March 12, 2018. Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP

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