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DUSHANBE (TCA) — Armed forces of Tajikistan and China on August 8 started joint military exercises in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region which borders Afghanistan, Tajikistan’s Avesta news agency reported.

Tajikistan’s Defense Ministry told Avesta it is the first large-scale joint Tajik-Chinese counterterrorism exercise.

Tajikistan is represented in the drills by ground, air and anti-aircraft defense forces.

The Tajik Defense Ministry said the exercises will practice coordinated actions on the border and fighting terrorism.

It is not the first Tajik-Chinese military exercises in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region — similar exercises were held in October 2016 with the participation of about 10 thousand Tajik and Chinese troops. The Chinese side was then represented by a company of the People’s Liberation Army of China. The drill involved artillery, armored vehicles, and military aircraft.

In that exercise, Tajik and Chinese military practiced elimination of terrorists infiltrating from Afghanistan to Tajikistan and on to China.

In recent years, China has increased its military presence in Tajikistan’s remote Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in a move to protect its northwestern Xinjiang region from potential spillover of Islamic extremists from Afghanistan.

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