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Syria, Iran, and Venezuela take part in Russian tank 'biathlon'

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Syria, Iran, and Venezuela take part in Russian tank 'biathlon'
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Associated Press
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Crews from 22 countries took part in a tank "biathlon" competition near Moscow on Thursday that was part of a Russian international military competition called the "Army Games".

It was the fifth annual competition the country has held, and several nations — some neutral or allied to Russia — turned up for the event.

Syria, which is currently in its eighth year of civil war, participated in the event as well as Venezuela, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Iran.

Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia, Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa said his country's team "gave a worthy performance".

Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country in the region's "largest exodus" to escape violence, insecurity and food shortage, the UN refugee agency said.

The Russian defence ministry tracks the results from the games and runs the competition website.

In addition to the tank biathlon, there are airforce, naval, and sniper competitions as well as a medical staff relay race

Mark Galeotti, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, argued in a 2018 Foreign Policy magazine article that the competition — which Russia often wins — was part of "a deliberate effort by Putin's regime to intensify the connection between army and society".

He called it a "blending of sport, warfare, soft power, and spectacle".