Rumor: US Marines drinking snake blood?

Cobra blood is believed to be a panacea and aphrodisiac in parts of Southeast Asia

CONFIRMED: Exercise is part of survival program taught by Royal Thai Special Forces

The annual event, known as Operation Cobra Gold, brings together some 13,000 soldiers from more than 20 countries who participate in jungle survival courses in Thailand, according to Huffington Post, Daily Mail, New York Daily News and other outlets.

As part of the survival training, soldiers are taught how to kill venomous snakes and then given the option of experiencing a Thai custom of drinking the reptiles' blood. Soldiers tilt their heads back as the blood of a dead cobra drips into their mouths. Cobra blood is a hot commodity in parts of Southeast Asia because of the belief that it serves as an aphrodisiac and a cure for all ills. In Jakarta, Indonesia, vendors can earn more than $100 a night selling shots of cobra blood and liquor, CNN reported.

Marines drink cobra blood: Operation Cobra Gold exercise is part of survival program taught by Royal Thai Special Forces. IMAGEReuters

(Click here to discover which parasite may infect snakes in that region.)

The main emphasis of the jungle training is identifying edible plants and clean drinking water because "plants are the easiest source of food to acquire in the jungle," Thai Special Forces Master Sgt. 2nd Class Rittichai Soontorn told the Huffington Post.

Marine helicopter crashes

On Wednesday, a U.S. marine helicopter taking part in the Cobra Gold joint military drills made a "hard landing" during an exercise in northern Thailand, injuring three soldiers. Two of the passengers required emergency surgery.

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