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05-02-1989

The last Soviet troops leave Kabul

In an important move signaling the close of the nearly decade-long Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, the last Russian troops withdraw from the capital city of Kabul. Less than two weeks later, all Soviet troops departed Afghanistan entirely, ending what many observers referred to as Russia's "Vietnam." Soviet armed forces entered Afghanistan in December 1979 to support that nation's pro-Soviet communist government in its battles with Muslim rebels. Almost immediately, Afghan rebels put up unexpectedly stiff resistance to the Russian intervention. Soon, thousands of Soviet troops were fighting a bloody, costly, and ultimately frustrating battle to end the Afghan resistance. By the time the Soviets started to withdraw in early 1989, over 13,000 Russian soldiers were dead and over 22,000 had been wounded. For Afghanistan, the Soviet withdrawal did not mean an end to the death and destruction. The Afghan rebels, who had been armed to the teeth by U.S. aid, simply turned their attention to political and religious rivals within the country. Civil war continued to wrack the nation.