By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Five of the six countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have launched a joint counterterrorism military exercise in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Troops from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have deployed more than 2,000 troops in the Peace Mission 2012 exercises, which began on June 9.
The Russian Defense Ministry says the heads of the general staff of each country also are participating.
SCO member Uzbekistan is not taking part.
The exercises are staged in three phases — strategic consultations, battle preparation, and operations.
The drills last until June 14.
It is the ninth joint exercise of its kind since the SCO was founded in 1996.
Countries with observer status in the group include Iran, Pakistan, Mongolia, and India.
Belarus and Sri Lanka have been named as SCO dialogue partners.