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Russian-Mongolian military drills kick off in Gobi Desert

August 31, 9:05 UTC+3 CHITA

In 2017, the Russian-Mongolian joint military exercise is for the first time being held in the harsh weather conditions of the Gobi Desert

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

CHITA, August 31. /TASS/. The opening ceremony of the Selenga-2017 joint Russian-Mongolian military exercise has been held at Mongolia’s Zuunbayan training range in the Gobi Desert, the press service of Russia’s Eastern Military District said in a statement on Thursday.

"During the ceremony, the two countries’ military servicemen raised their national flags to the sounds of the Russian and Mongolian national anthems," the statement reads. "Besides, a flag created for the Selenga-2017 drills was also raised, which symbolizes the friendship and unity between the Russian and Mongolian militaries," the press service added.

In 2017, the Russian-Mongolian joint military exercise is for the first time being held in the harsh weather conditions of the Gobi Desert. The two countries’ troops will train joint activities aimed at eliminating illicit armed groups. The drills involve more than 1,000 troops. According to previous reports, up to 500 Russian military servicemen from the separate motor-rifle unit deployed to the town of Kyakhta in the Republic of Buryatia will participate in the drills.

The annual Selenga military drills have been taking place since 2008. Before 2011, the drills were dubbed Darkhan, which means "constructor" in Mongolian. In 2016, the exercise was held at Buryatia’s Burduny training range, it involved around 1,000 troops and up to 200 pieces of military equipment.

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