Antiterrorist coalition's air base in Kyrgyzstan supporting "Enduring Freedom" operation

The international coalition's air base, situated at Manas airport of the Kyrgyz capital "is assisting Afghanistan in leaving the way of confrontation and starting the course of freedom", said the grouping's commander, US brigadier general Jared Kennish at a ceremony devoted to the base's 1st anniversary on Monday.

The Kyrgyz base continues to provide humanitarian and combat support to the "Enduring Freedom" operation, the general emphasized. The coalition's airplanes will remain here till "their main mission, stability in Afghanistan, is achieved" and the terrorist groups in the region are defeated, Kennish said.

The coalition's airplanes stationed in Manas will not participate in a possible operation against Iraq, "unless the coalition member states and the government of Kyrgyzstan decide otherwise", said the base's public relations officer, Captain Elizabeth Ortiz.

The anti-terrorist group in Kyrgyzstan comprises about 1,500 soldiers and officers from seven countries, the USA, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Norway, South Korea and Spain. They also have more than ten F-16 fighters from the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, as well as several military transport planes. In the future the base may accommodate servicemen from other countries, such as Turkey and the Baltic states, the commandment believes.

A year ago, the current air base consisted of merely 30 tents. Now it has more than 400 living and working buildings.

Over this period the coalition has invested about $500,000 in the Kyrgyz economy. Moreover, the servicemen often take part in humanitarian activities in the country.

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