AMMAN, Jordan — Thousands of soldiers from 18 countries took part Tuesday in military drills in Jordan jointly overseen by the US Army, officials said.

Around 10,000 troops are participating in Jordan's fifth "Eager Lion" annual war games, which will last for two weeks.

The aerial, ground and naval exercises come as a US-led coalition battles the Islamic State (IS) group in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

Several other Arab states have joined a Saudi-led coalition carrying out air strikes on rebels in Yemen.

Even so, "Eager Lion has nothing to do with what is currently happening in the region," US Maj. Gen. Rick Mattson told reporters in Amman.

"The more we work together the stronger we are."

As well as troops from the US and Jordan, military contingents from several nearby Arab states and troops from France, Italy and Pakistan will take part in drills in the Jordanian desert.

The exercises will focus on challenges such as "combating terrorism" and border security, said Jordanian Brig. Gen. Fhad al-Damin.

Jordan has intensified its air raids against IS since the jihadists burned alive one of its pilots who crashed in Syria earlier this year, but there are fears its participation in US-led strikes could drag the kingdom into nearby conflicts.

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