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Rotation of Russian air group in Sudan takes place in July - AF

RIA Novosti

19/06/2007 16:25 MOSCOW, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian air group, part of the UN Mission in Sudan, will carry out a regular rotation July 3-9, an aide to the Russian Air Force commander said Tuesday.

"Transportation of Russian Aviation Group personnel and cargoes to Sudan will be carried out by military transport aircraft and planes from the Eighth special-purpose Aviation Division," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

The Air Force commander said earlier that the air group consists of 120 personnel and four Mi-8 helicopters reequipped to UN standards with locators, navigation and rescue systems in line with international standards.

The group provides transport for UN military observers in Sudan, as well as transporting and accompanying cargoes, and carrying out rescue operations.

The first unit of Russian peacekeepers arrived in Sudan in April 2006. The peacekeepers are to stay in Sudan for about 5-6 years.

The UN Security Council and the Sudanese government held talks Sunday in Khartoum, with Sudan agreeing to allow around 20,000 troops to be deployed there to maintain peace in Darfur, but insisted that the force be under the control of the 53-member African Union.

In March 2007, the UN mission accused Sudan's government of orchestrating and taking part in "gross violations" in Darfur, and called for urgent international action to protect civilians.

According to UN estimates, inter-ethnic violence and disease have left 450,000 dead since the conflict began in February 2003, mostly among farming tribes, from which rebel groups fighting the central government in Khartoum draw their numbers.

Armed militias known as 'Janjaweed' which the Sudanese government denies supporting and who continue to attack civilians, are largely nomadic Arabs, and have been involved in violent battles with farmers over land ownership.

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