Washington: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday dismissed reports that Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan use anti-aircraft stinger missiles similar to those directed against Soviet forces in the 1980s.
“I don’t think so,” Gates told CNN’s “State of the Union” program in response to a question on the matter.
Documents released by whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks one week ago suggested Taliban insurgents had the shoulder-fired, heat-seeking, surface-to-air missiles.
The use of stingers against US forces would be a step-up in the insurgency’s capabilities although there have been no reports of US aircraft in the country being brought down by one during the near nine-year war.
The CIA delivered hundreds of stingers to Afghan fighters during the 1980s Soviet occupation. They destroyed up to 300 helicopter gunships, fighter jets and transport aircraft, prompting Russia’s humiliating withdrawal.