US eyes alternate supply lines into Afghanistan: official

-File photo

Alternate routes are being studied to supply international troops in Afghanistan, after Pakistan temporarily shut down the traditional supply line, a US military official said Tuesday.
With Nato reinforcements expected soon, potential alternatives could include “neighbouring countries in the north,” according to the official who asked not to be named.
“Not only because of the attacks (at the Khyber Pass) but also because we are expecting an increase of troop numbers and equipment” in the coming months which means there will be a greater need for supplies, the official said.
Supplies can be ferried in by air but “it is more expensive,” the official added.
Earlier Pakistan cut off supplies to Nato and US forces in Afghanistan via the Khyber Pass for now as its security forces launched a major operation against militants there, officials said.
The offensive followed spectacular raids by suspected Taliban militants on foreign military supply depots in northwest Pakistan earlier this month in which hundreds of Nato and US-led coalition vehicles were destroyed.
The United States is expected to send additional 20,000-30,000 troops into Afghanistan in the next several months.
In the north, a route coming from Uzbekistan was closed in late 2005 after Tashkent ended permission for the United States to use the former Soviet air base at Karshi Khanabad, which was a logistical staging ground when US forces arrived in the area after the September 11, 2001 terror strikes.
The other countries bordering Afghanistan to the north are the former Soviet republics Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2008