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Russia completing rotation of Sudan helicopter unit - Air Force


MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - The second and final group of service personnel from Russia's aviation group will head for the Sudan on Monday as part of a UN operation in the region, an Air Force spokesman said.

"The military transport Il-76 aircraft will deliver over 40 personnel to Africa," Lt.-Col. Vladimir Drik said.

Rotations are held twice a year. The previous rotation took place in August.

The Russian peacekeeping contingent in Sudan comprises 120 personnel and four Mi-8 helicopters equipped to UN and international standards.

The contingent provides transport services for UN military observers in Sudan, including accompanying freight, and also carries out rescue operations.

The first unit of Russian peacekeepers arrived in Sudan in April 2006. They are expected to stay - with regular rotations - for five or six years.

The UN Mission in Sudan was established in 2005 to monitor the peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in southern Sudan, which ended the longest-running civil war in Africa.

The UN presence in Sudan has since been expanded to include peacekeeping operations in Darfur. Since 2003, Chad and Sudan have accused each other of inciting conflict on their common border, which is along the west Sudanese region of Darfur.

According to international estimates, more than 300,000 people have been killed and around 2.7 million displaced in the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

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