Balkh airport

NATO hands over ATCT of Balkh airport to Afghan authority

NATO has officially handed over the operation of Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) at Mawlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi International Airport to the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA).

This is the second airport, after Kandahar airport, that its transition is completed to the Afghan authority.

On May 14, the US Embassy in Kabul said in a tweet that the US forces have handed over the authority of Kandahar airfield to the Afghan government.

The transition of Kandahar airfield was completed after the ACAA had requested to take the full responsibility to operate it.

The ACAA has already expressed readiness to take charge of running all national and international airports across the country.

With regard to Kabul international airport, however, the US and Turkey have reportedly agreed to hand over its charge to Turkey after the foreign troops withdrawal. The US President has set the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan by September 11 this year.

Citing US officials, the Associated Press recently reported that the US has agreed to assist Turkey in running and providing security for the airport after September 11.

“Officials said the U.S. has agreed to leave a C-RAM — or Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar system — at the airport, as well as troops to operate it, as part of an agreement with Turkey. The U.S. also plans to leave aircrew for helicopter support at the airport,” part of the report states.

According to the officials, the agreement between the US and Turkey on this regard will be finalized in Ankara next week. The deployment of several airplanes to support Kabul Airport also appears to be part of the Washington-Ankara agreement.

Therefore, hundreds of the US troops will remain in Afghanistan until September 11, when the Turk forces will take full responsibility of providing security and running Kabul airport.

The Taliban has strongly reacted against military presence of any foreign troops, including Turkey, reiterating on a full withdrawal from Afghanistan as per the US-Taliban peace deal.