US Central Command commander Gen. Michael Kurilla said the US is considering transferring aircraft that once belonged to the Afghan Army to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan. The aircraft was flown to Tajikistan by Afghan soldiers during the fall of the US-backed government in Kabul.
Over the weekend, Kurilla traveled to the Central Asian country for a high-level summit with President Rahmon, Minister of Defense General Colonel Sherali Mirzo. At the meeting, Kurilla said, “I came here to reaffirm our commitment to the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Tajikistan. Strong Tajikistan borders are critical to security of the entire Central Asia region.”
A statement relayed through the US embassy reported that Kurilla thanked Tajikistan for maintaining the defunct Afghan Army’s aircraft. “The United States is working with the Tajik government to determine the best way to effectively use and maintain the aircraft.” He continued, “Our hope is to be able to hand over some or all of the aircraft to the Tajik government.”
Kurilla said he could not offer a timeline and that the military equipment could not be returned to Afghanistan “because they do not belong to the Taliban.”