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This Happened

This Happened—December 23: The Soviets Invade Afghanistan

On this day in 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War, after Afghanistan’s centrist government was overthrown by left-wing military officers led by Nur Mohammad Taraki.

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Why did the Soviets invade Afghanistan?

The new government forged close ties with the Soviet Union and began extensive land and social reforms that were resented by the Muslim and largely anti-communist population. Trying to quell the uprisings and bolster support for their new ally, the Soviet Union invaded the country.

What happened during the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979?

Some 30,000 Soviet troops were sent across the border, ending the short-lived presidency of People’s leader, Hafizullah Amin. But because the client state, now headed by Banner leader Babrak Karmal, was unable to garner enough popular support, and because the mujahideen rebellion grew now backed by the United States, the Soviets left the suppression of the rebellion to the Afghan army and the Afghan War quickly ground into a stalemate.

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