Russia gives 3 coptors to Ahmad Shah Masoud
The Frontier Post, August 17,1998

PESHAWAR - In a bid to halt the Taliban advances towards the retreating Northern Alliance strongholds the Russian Federation is reported to have provided three military cargo helicopters to Ahmad Shah Masud last Thursday. The delivery of three M-35 version Russian helicopters took place after a meeting which was held ten days ago in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It was reportedly attended by Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov, Deputy Prime Minister of Russian Federation and the Chief of Staff of the Russian Army. This important meeting was followed by another one which was held at the Kolab airbase of Tajikistan. Besides, the top Russian officials, the meeting was also attended by the representatives of Central Asian republics. Dr.Abdur Rehman, a close aide to Masud and Muhammad Yunus Qanooni, a former Interior Minister in former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani's cabinet, also attended the meeting.

A Peshawar-based Sahaar News Agency of Afghanistan reported that the Russian Federation promised to deliver 8 helicopters-four M-35 and four M-24-to Masud for prompt supply of arms and ammunition and carrying out military operations in Taliban occupied territories. Of the eight, four M-35 version Russian-made cargo helicopters were received by Masud in Punjsher Valley on last Thursday whereas the remaining four of M-24 version coptors are to be delivered in the next two or three days. The M-24 are gunship helicopters and can be used for carrying out military operations. The Russian Federation may double this number i.e 16 helicopters, if demand arises due to Taliban advances, the Sahaar News Agency reported while quoting a Northern Alliance source. It is to be mentioned here that Masud reportedly has 7 helicopters in his air fleet. Two coptors are in his personal use whereas five are with the allies of Masud in Parvan, Kapisa and Badkhshan provinces. These coptors of Masud's air fleet are also actively taking part in providing reinforcement to his allies who have been waging a war against Taliban in the hilly areas of eastern provinces of Afghanistan such as Kunar, Leghman and Ningharhar. The Russian authorities had also provided four helicopters to Masud some time ago when a severe earthquake hit the northern Afghanistan. Though these helicopters were given under humanitarian aid cover, they could be used for military cargo purpose also.

The Kolab airbase of Tajikistan from where the delivery of four M-35 coptors was made is in the operational use of Masud since long, Afghan sources in Peshawar claimed.

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