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Updated January 19th, 2022 at 19:57 IST

Pentagon avers military aircraft in Tajikistan & Uzbekistan may not return to Afghanistan

The Pentagon of the United States said no final decision has been made about the Afghan planes parked in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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In a key development, the United States Department of Defense's headquarters, the Pentagon asserted that no final decision has been made regarding the Afghan aircraft parked in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, however, it is likely that they would not be repatriated to Afghanistan. In reply to a query regarding the plane's fate, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby during a press conference on Tuesday informed that it is safe to assume that the plane will not be transported back to war-torn Afghanistan.

"I don’t have any update on it for you or any decision about how they will be handled. But it is safe to assume that they will not be sent into Afghanistan to be used by the Taliban," Kirby stated.

Kirby asserted that the US is still mulling over a decision on the aircraft. Acting Defense Minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob, while speaking at a ceremony in Kabul on January 11th, called on Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to return Afghan aircraft. He asserted that all the aircraft in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan should be returned to the United States.

He furthet added, "Our aircraft that are in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan should be returned. We will not allow these aircraft to remain abroad or to be used by those countries."

Afghanistan had around 164 military aircraft before fall of previous government

According to various media reports, Afghanistan had around 164 active military aircraft before the Taliban takeover, however, there are now just 81 in the country. The remaining ones were deported from Afghanistan and sent to various countries. Furthermore, Kirby denounced the terrorist incident in Abu Dhabi that murdered three people and damaged civilian infrastructure. "We remain dedicated to the UAE's security and ability to defend itself, and we stand with our Emirati partners in defending their homeland against any threats," Kirby said.

Earlier on Monday, the Taliban requested that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan return Afghan Air Force jets and helicopters that were flown to neighbouring countries by fleeing pilots in August of last year. Mohammad Yaqoob, the Taliban's defence minister, stated last week that his government would never agree to the planes being taken or utilised by either country.

During the Taliban takeover of the country on August 15, US-trained Afghan air force pilots flew themselves and their families to Uzbekistan aboard more than 40 aircraft, including A-29 light attack planes and Black Hawk helicopters. In early September, Uzbek officials said that hundreds of Afghan pilots and their families had been deported for illegally flying into the country aboard military planes. According to reports, the Afghan citizens were relocated to a US military facility in the United Arab Emirates as part of a deal Washington struck with Uzbekistan to relocate more than 450 Afghans.

(With inputs from agencies)

Image: AP

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Published January 19th, 2022 at 19:57 IST

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