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Venezuela begins military exercises, citing looming U.S. threat

A Venezuelan soldier walks next to a missile system launcher prior to starting civilian and military exercises in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 14, 2015. Fernando Llano / AP Photo

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan soldiers are starting 10 days of military exercises that the president of the socialist-governed South American country says are needed to protect against a looming threat from the U.S.

READ MORE: Obama levies sanctions on 7 Venezuelan officials

Nearly 100,000 members of the Venezuelan armed forces began conducting exercises at points all over country Saturday.

The U.S. imposed sanctions earlier this week on several Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations, and President Nicolas Maduro has said his country will take steps to protect itself from the hostile U.S. government.

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez inaugurated the exercises at Fort Tiuna in Caracas, the largest military installation in Venezuela. He said the U.S. sanctions constitute an imminent danger and the armed forces must ready themselves to ensure the country’s independence.

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