- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2019

China’s military has set up a new counterterrorism special ops unit based in the restive Xinjiang province, home to the Uighur minority that has long chafed under the leadership of the Communist Party in Beijing.

The state-controlled Global Times, citing reports in the local Chinese press, revealed the formation of the “Mountain Eagle Commando” unit on Tuesday. The special ops unit will be just the country’s third counterterrorism commando unit, and the first to be established since the Guangzhou-based Snow Leopard Unit 17 years ago.

Xinjiang has been a trouble spot for China as it faces international criticism of its treatment of the Uighurs, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, including the establishment of ‘re-education” internment camps that reportedly have detained 1.5 million or more local residents.

A Chinese official late last month denied the camps were a source of abuse and said the majority of those who were assigned to the camps have been released. Beijing has accused some Uighur groups of using violent means in a bid to form a separate state.

The Global Times report said the next special operations force’s name reflects its designated field of battle — the mountains and plateaus of China’s hinterlands. The unit’s commander is described as a veteran of Xinjiang counterterrorism operations who was dealt with “more than a dozen serious terrorist incidents.”

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