NATO marked a new first in its Afghan campaign on Friday as officials announced that the alliance had sent supplies by rail to its troops via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the first time, DPA reported.
Most NATO supplies enter Afghanistan via Pakistan. But the route has come under increasing attack by militants in the border region between the two countries, and the alliance has spent months negotiating to open alternate routes.
"The first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia on May 14 and arrived in Afghanistan on June 9 ... The train transited through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before entering Afghanistan," the alliance announced.
The shipment consisted of 27 standard 20-foot cargo containers loaded with construction materials and food supplies from Belgium, Britain and Spain, officials said.
NATO member Latvia was once part of Imperial Russia and was later occupied by the Soviet Union. Its rail network is part of the former Tsarist and Soviet network which reaches across Central Asia.
"Plans are already under way for follow-on shipments in the months ahead," the NATO statement said.