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Criticised training exercises begin anew

An annual US-led military training exercise, which was marred by controversy last year when a major rights group said it was teaching tactics that would assist Cambodia’s “abusive armed forces” in crackdowns, will officially open today in Kampong Speu province.

A Friday statement from the US Embassy says the “significant and highly-productive regional training exercise”, Angkor Sentinel 15, will focus on “providing humanitarian assistance and responding to disasters”.

Last year’s exercises between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and the US military came under fire from Human Rights Watch after photos and videos were published on Angkor Sentinel’s official Facebook page, which the group said offered evidence that the training could be in violation of US law.

The US Embassy has rejected the allegations, arguing that the training was in “full compliance with all applicable US laws and regulations”.

According to Friday’s statement, the latest round of exercises will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and training in explosive ordnance disposal.

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