July 28, 2021

a rocket defense system deployed to protect Kabul airport against the advancing Taliban

Concern over the inexorable advance of the Taliban grows every day in Afghanistan. A defense system capable of intercepting rockets and missiles has been deployed at Kabul airport, Afghan authorities announced on Sunday (July 11th).

“The newly installed air defense system has been operational in Kabul since 2 hours this Sunday morning” (9:30 p.m. GMT Saturday), the Afghan Interior Ministry said, “This system has proven useful throughout the world to repel missile and rocket attacks”. The ministry did not provide details on the type of system deployed or its location. But his spokesperson, Tariq Arian, told Agence France-Presse that the system had been installed at Kabul airport to protect only airport facilities.

The Taliban have repeatedly launched rocket and mortar attacks against government or foreign forces, and the rival ISIS organization carried out such an attack on Kabul in 2020.

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“Given by our foreign friends”

The air defense system “Was given to us by our foreign friends. It is very complicated technology. For now, our foreign friends make it work while we acquire the knowledge to use it ”Ajmal Omar Shinwari, spokesman for the Afghan security forces, said at a press conference. He did not, however, specify which country was concerned.

Turkey has pledged to ensure the security of Kabul airport when all US and NATO troops have left the country, a deadline scheduled for August 31. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Ankara and Washington agreed on the “Terms” the future assumption of responsibility of the airport by the Turkish forces.

During its twenty years of presence in Afghanistan, the American army has deployed on its bases several C-RAM systems (counter-rockets, artillery and mortars), capable of detecting and destroying projectiles targeting them, but also of giving l ‘alert. This type of system was deployed in particular on the huge base at Bagram, 50 kilometers north of Kabul, returned to the Afghan forces in early July.

Foreign nationals evacuated

In the past two months, the Taliban have seized large portions of Afghan territory, in an offensive launched in early May in favor of the start of the final withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Deprived of crucial American air support, the Afghan forces offered little resistance.

The latter now only control the main axes and the provincial capitals, several of which are surrounded by the insurgents, giving rise to fear that they will soon attack Kabul or its airport, the main exit route for foreign nationals in Afghanistan, in particular diplomats. and humanitarian workers. Several districts in provinces neighboring Kabul, located within a radius of a hundred kilometers from the capital, have already fallen into the hands of the Taliban.

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The situation worries foreign countries. India has announced that it has evacuated Indian staff from its consulate in Kandahar, a large city in southern Afghanistan. Kandahar province, the birthplace and historic stronghold of the Taliban, has been the scene of intense fighting recently. The insurgents seized the key district of Panjwai, about 15 kilometers from Kandahar city in early July, and on Friday they attacked a prison on the outskirts of the provincial capital before being pushed back.

In recent days, due to the fighting in northern Afghanistan, Russia has closed its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of Balkh province and one of the main Afghan urban centers, close to the border. with Uzbekistan. Beijing also recently advised its nationals to leave the country and evacuated 210 of them in early July.

On Sunday, the spokesman for the Afghan security forces tried to reassure, denying the Taliban’s claim that they control 85% of Afghan territory. An assertion that cannot be independently verified. “This is not true. Fighting continues in most areas ” that the Taliban say they control, said Ajmal Omar Shinwari.

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The World with AFP