By Ruzanna Khachatrian
US warplanes have used Armenia’s airspace as part of the ongoing military build-up for the anticipated retaliatory strikes against suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan, officials in Yerevan said on Thursday.
Vahe Gabrielian, a spokesman for President Robert Kocharian, told RFE/RL that the US government received a positive response to its request for overflights of Armenian territory and “made use of that permission today.” But he refused to give any details of the operation, including whether or not the flights were originated from Armenia or from the nearby Turkish city of Incirlik, one of the main US military bases in the region.
The US already has 50 warplanes at Incirlik air base, used to patrol a no-fly zone over Iraq. Incirlik is a short flight from Iraq and Syria and some 2,400 kilometers from Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden, a prime suspect for terrorist attacks in the United States earlier this month, is hiding.
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Wednesday that Armenia the US are now closely cooperating on the fight against international terrorism “on the ambassadorial and other levels.”