Kabul airport gets anti-missile system

Amid Taliban onslaught, NATO keen to secure vital exit route for foreign diplomats and aid workers

Afghan authorities said on Sunday they have installed an anti-missile system at Kabul airport to counter incoming rockets, as the Taliban pressed on with a blistering offensive across the country.

Washington and its allies are due to end their military mission in Afghanistan at the end of next month, even as the insurgents say they now control 85% of the country — a claim that could not be independently verified and is disputed by the government.

The Islamic fundamentalist group’s rapid gains in recent weeks have raised fears about the security of the capital and its airport, with NATO keen to secure a vital exit route to the outside world for foreign diplomats and aid workers.

“The newly installed air defence system has been operational in Kabul since 2:00 am Sunday,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement. “The system has proven useful in the world in repelling rocket and missile attacks.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told AFP it had been installed at the airport, though officials did not offer details about the type of system or who had installed it. But Afghan security forces spokesman Ajmal Omar Shinwari said the system was given by “our foreign friends”.

Regular attacks

The Taliban have regularly launched rockets and mortars at government forces across the countryside, with the jihadist Islamic State group carrying out similar strikes on the capital in 2020. Over the years, the U.S. military installed several C-RAMs (Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar Systems) across its bases, including at Bagram, to destroy incoming rockets targeting the facilities, a foreign security official and media reports said. The C-RAMS includes cameras to detect incoming rockets and alert local forces.

Turkey has promised to provide security for Kabul airport once the U.S. and NATO troops leave next month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey and the United States had agreed on the “scope” of how the airport would be managed under the control of Turkish forces.

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