The US and South Korea have launched annual joint military exercises amid high tensions in the Korean peninsula.

The military exercise was originally scheduled to begin on Sunday, but was postponed after a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in South Korea. A South Korean officer also tested positive for the disease.

According to an AFP report, the Combined Command Post Training will run until 28 August. The exercise will ‘focus on the maintenance of the combined defence posture’, the report added, citing a US Joint Chiefs of Staff statement.

The statement further said that the decision to advance with the exercise was taken after evaluating ‘related circumstances, such as the Covid-19 situation’.

The exercise will be scaled down due to the ongoing pandemic and will not involve any US-based troops due to restriction on travel, Reuters reported earlier.

The drill is anticipated to receive a strong reaction from North Korea, which regard such exercises as war rehearsals.

However, the number of such exercises has reduced in recent years to facilitate peace talks.

South Korea and North Korea are still technically at war after the Korean conflict (1950-1953) ended in an armistice and not a treaty.

Tensions recently escalated after North Korea destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office near the border in June.

In March, North Korea test-fired two missiles. The missiles were said to be short-range ballistic weapon systems.