A joint military exercise involving hundreds of soldiers has begun between Kazakhstan, the UK and the US in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan.

The international tactical exercise called Steppe Eagle-2009 is being held under Nato guidance and is aimed at improving the battle readiness and peacekeeping operations of international forces.

Over 1,300 troops and 100 military vehicles and airplanes are participating in the exercise, which is scheduled to last till 26 September 2009.

This year, Nato is focusing on the KAZBRIG battalion of the Kazakhstan military, which defused over 4.5 million explosive items during its service in Iraq.