Amid Taliban onslaught, NATO keen to secure vital exit route for foreign diplomats and aid workers
Afghan authorities said on Sunday they had installed an anti-missile system at Kabul airport to counter incoming rockets, as the Taliban continued a lightning offensive across the country.
Washington and its allies are expected to end their military mission in Afghanistan at the end of next month, even as insurgents say they now control 85% of the country – a claim that could not be independently verified and is contested by the government.
The Islamic fundamentalist group’s rapid gains in recent weeks have raised fears for the security of the capital and its airport, with NATO keen to ensure a vital exit route to the outside world for foreign diplomats and aid workers.
“The newly installed air defense system has been operational in Kabul since Sunday at 2:00 am,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “The system has proven useful around the world in repelling rocket and missile attacks.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told AFP it was installed at the airport, although officials did not provide details on the type of system or on whom had installed it. But Afghan security forces spokesman Ajmal Omar Shinwari said the system was provided by “our foreign friends.”
The Taliban have regularly launched rockets and mortars at government forces throughout the countryside, with the jihadist group Islamic State carrying out similar strikes on the capital in 2020. Over the years, the US military has installed several C-RAMs (Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar Systems) through its bases, including at Bagram, to destroy incoming rockets targeting the facilities, a foreign security and media official said. C-RAMS includes cameras to detect incoming rockets and alert local forces.
Turkey has pledged to ensure the security of Kabul airport once US and NATO troops leave next month.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey and the United States had agreed on the “scope” of the management of the airport under the control of Turkish forces.