Report: North Korea fires 18 short-range missiles

North Korea fired off 18 short-range missiles on Sunday in a new show of force, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, quoting military officials in Seoul.

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The North launched 10 missiles in a span of 10 minutes, with the other eight rockets fired in a period of five minutes, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The rockets flew about 43 miles before crashing into the sea, Yonhap reported.

"We are aware of reports that North Korea fired a number of rockets into the sea," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Sunday via the department's Twitter feed.

"We once again call on North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions," she added.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced the deployment of approximately 800 more U.S. soldiers to South Korea. 

“The deployment of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment to Korea is part of U.S. enduring rebalancing efforts within the Asia-Pacific region, and allows for greater responsiveness to better meet theater operational requirements,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“This action supports the United States' defense commitment to the Republic of Korea as specified by the mutual defense treaty and presidential agreements,” the Pentagon said.

That announcement followed a January meeting between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se at the Pentagon.

According to the Pentagon, they discussed “the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense of the Korean Peninsula as a strong deterrent against provocations from North Korea.”

— This report was updated at 6:21 p.m.