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Turkey, Azerbaijan Begin Joint Military Drills Near Armenian Border

Guns are fired in the Winter 2021 Combined Joint Live Fire Exercise in a mountainous area near Kars, eastern Turkey, on February 1.

Turkey and Azerbaijan have begun large-scale joint military exercises in eastern Anatolia near the border with Armenia.

The winter military exercises, set to run from February 1 to 12 near the city of Kars, are the latest sign of deepening ties between the Turkic allies after Turkey threw its weight behind Azerbaijan in its victory against ethnic Armenian forces in a six-week war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement the drills are intended to ensure combat coordination and capabilities under winter conditions.

On Twitter, it posted a video of two combat helicopters saluting the Turkish flag above Kars castle.

On January 30, a joint Turkish-Russian observation center to monitor the cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh began operations inside Azerbaijan, giving Ankara a greater footprint in the South Caucasus.

Under the Russian-brokered cease-fire agreement reached on November 9, a chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh and all seven districts around it were placed under Azerbaijani administration after almost 30 years under the control of ethnic Armenians.

More than 4,700 people were killed in the flare-up of violence.

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