In the years that followed, churches and monasteries were destroyed or turned into public toilets.
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Their land and property was appropriated. Thousands of bishops, monks and clergy were systematically murdered by the security services.
Specialist propaganda units were formed, like the League of the Godless. Christian intellectuals were rounded up and sent to camps.
The Soviet Union and Iran
The Soviets had originally believed that when the church had been deprived of its power, religion would quickly wither away. When this did not happen, they redoubled their efforts. Under Khrushchev it became illegal to teach religion to your own children. From to the perestroika period of the s, the more religion persisted, the more the Soviets would seek new and inventive ways to eradicate it. Today the Russian Orthodox churches are packed full.
Once the grip of oppression had been released, the faithful returned to church in their millions. The Soviet experiment manifestly failed.
If you want to know why it failed, you could do no better than go along to the British Museum in London next week when the Living with Gods exhibition opens. As a result, however, the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war. Soviet troops occupied the cities and main arteries of communication, while the mujahideen waged guerrilla war in small groups in the almost 80 percent of the country that escaped government and Soviet control.
Soviets used their air power to deal harshly with both rebels and civilians, leveling villages to deny safe haven to the enemy, destroying vital irrigation ditches, and laying millions of land mines. The Soviets did not foresee taking on such an active role in fighting the rebels and attempted to downplay their involvement as light assistance to the Afghan army.
However, the arrival of the Soviets had the opposite effect as it incensed instead of pacified the people, causing the mujahideen to gain in strength and numbers. Originally the Soviets thought their forces would strengthen the backbone of the Afghan army and provide assistance by securing major cities, lines of communication, and transportation.
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The Afghan army forces had a high desertion rate and were loath to fight, especially since the Soviet forces pushed them into infantry roles while they manned the armored vehicles and artillery. The mujahideen favored sabotage operations such as damaging power lines, knocking out pipelines and radio stations, and blowing up government office buildings, air terminals, hotels, cinemas, and so on. In the border region with Pakistan, the mujahideen would often launch rockets per day.
Between April and January , they carried out over 23, shelling attacks on government targets. They concentrated on both civilian and military targets, knocking out bridges, closing major roads, attacking convoys, disrupting the electric power system and industrial production, and attacking police stations and Soviet military installations and air bases. They assassinated government officials and PDPA members and laid siege to small rural outposts. By the mids, the Soviet contingent was increased to , and fighting increased throughout the country, but the military and diplomatic cost of the war to the USSR was high.
By mid the Soviet Union, now under reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, announced it would start withdrawing its forces.
The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, , and ended on February 15, Skip to main content. Batirashvili joined the Georgian army, where he served in a military intelligence unit. He fought in the August war when Russian troops attacked Georgia. But he became ill with tuberculosis, and two years after the war was dismissed from the army, his father said. He came home to the Pankisi Gorge. In , Georgian police raided the family home and found a box full of cartridges. Batirashvili, suspected by police of ties to Islamist militants active in the gorge, charged him with illegal weapons possession.
He served two years in jail, and was released under amnesty. It was when he returned home after his release that he told his family he saw no future in Georgia and was going abroad, his father said. He was never a terrorist.
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One of only a few Islamist leaders with a professional military background, he had several hundred fighters, mostly from ex-Soviet states, under his command for the battle. Attacks were organized randomly and there were disputes among commanders, the rebel said.
Around that time, Shishani aligned himself to Islamic State. Seizing the base, which since has been ceded to Kurdish forces, was one of the first big victories by Russian speaking militants, helping the Islamic State gain territory. They communicated in Russian and normally did not speak Arabic well enough to understand local militants.
The commander may have helped the Islamic State seize the Iraqi city of Mosul, the victory which established the group as the biggest Islamist security threat in the Middle East.