US-led war games underway in Morocco near disputed W.Sahara
More than 7,000 personnel from nine countries and NATO are taking part in the exercises codenamed "African Lion", which kicked off on June 8, according to US Africa Command (Africom).
The manoeuvres, due to conclude on Friday, have seen rockets fired near Western Sahara, navy boats patrol off the coast of Spain's Canary Islands and air forces conduct training exercises.
Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani said in a tweet ahead of the exercises that the event "marks the consecration of American recognition of the Moroccan Sahara".
But the US take on the exercises differed.
"Exercise locations are spread mainly across Morocco, from Kenitra Air Base in the north to Tan Tan and Guerir Labouhi training complex in the south," Africom said in a statement.
In the past days, AFP correspondents have seen exercises, including parachute jump training and rocket fire, taking place in the desert on the edges of Western Sahara.
The manoeuvres were staged some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Algerian desert town of Tindouf, where the separatist Polisario Front has a base.
Morocco laid claim to Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony with rich phosphate resources and offshore fisheries, after Spain withdrew in 1975.
Morocco now controls 80 percent of the territory, while the rest is held by the Polisario Front.
Rabat has offered Western Sahara autonomy, but maintains that the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom.
Morocco's armed forces, which usually keep a low profile, have praised the "perfect conditions" under which the joint exercises are taking place.
And in recent days pictures, videos and statements have been posted on the unofficial Facebook page of the Far-Maroc (armed forces) of the military games.
Countries taking part in the exercises include Tunisia and Senegal, as well as Britain and Italy.