Source AP ©

Fighter jets of Germany land in Afghanistan

Reconnaissance missions of NATO will be supported by the six German fighter jets landed in northern Afghanistan on Thursday.

A squadron of Tornados, equipped with special camera systems, will be used for intelligence gathering. They were dispatched from Germany on Monday and will be based at a German military base outside the northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Afghanistan's government welcomed the deployment of the aircraft as a "very effective" tool for operations and intelligence gathering, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

"It's very important for the security of Afghanistan, because we have no air force, and it is good news for the Afghan nation and will have a positive effect on security and stability," Azimi said.

The German Parliament last month approved the planes' deployment, which had been requested by NATO. They are being accompanied by some 200 military personnel.

The decision has irked some in Germany - particularly on the left - who worry that the Tornado deployment is a combat mission in disguise that will suck the country into fighting in southern Afghanistan.

Germany has some 3,000 soldiers serving in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan - largely in the relatively calm north.