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Kulyab [Kulob], Tajikistan
3759'39"N 6948'19"E

Kulyab [Kulob], a large airfield capable of handling all types of aircraft, was expanded by the Soviet Union to support operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The airport in Kulyab, located about 70 kilometers from the Afghan border, has played a leading role in supplying the Northern Alliance in Takhar province in Afghanistan. On 15 October 2001 a Russian relief aid convoy departed from Kulyab, reportedly carrying 210 tons of humanitarian aid to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. The cargo had been airlifted to Kulyab by seven planes of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. On 30 October 2001 an un-named Tajik official had stated that the "work begun on technical renovation of the [Kulyab] airfield and navigation systems is related to the upcoming use of it for receiving civil planes with humanitarian cargoes for the civilian population of northern provinces of Afghanistan, and to no other purposes". As early as 28 September 2001 it had been reported that President Emomali Rakhmonov had promised the US Ambassador to Tajikistan, Robert Flynn, that the Kulyab airfield would be available to American forces. In 1999 there were a number of claims by the Taliban that French aid for opposition leader Ahmad Shah Masood had reached Kulyab airbase aboard cargo planes.

On 03 November 2001 Tajikistan agreed to allow the United States to evaluate three former Soviet airbases for potential use by US aircraft to support Operation Enduring Freedom. The agreement was announced after a meeting in Dushanbe between US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov. The agreement followed an inspection on 31 October of several airports in southern Tajikistan by CINCENT Gen. Tommy R. Franks.

The initial evaluation was intended to be a prelude to a Tajik decision on the types of missions that the United States would be allowed to conduct from Khujand [in north Tajikistan], Kulyab / Kulob [about 50 miles southeast of Dushanbe], and Kurgan-Tyube / Qurghonteppa [in southern Tajikistan]. The evaluation apparently did not include Dushanbe, or the Tajik base near the town of Parkhar [about 100 kilometers from the Afghan border], which had previously figured in news speculation about possible US operations. The Northern Alliance had used Kulyab and Parkhar to obtain supplise through Tajikistan. Units of the Russian 201st Motorized Infantry Division are deployed at Dushanbe, Kurgan-Tyube, and Kulyab.

Despite the US evaluation, there is no evidence that would indicate that the US actually stationed forces at Kulyab.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:35:51 ZULU