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Boris Kerimbaev, Commander Of 'Muslim Battalion' In Soviet Afghan War, Dead At 71


Retired Colonel Boris Kerimbaev in Almaty in 2009

A commander of the so-called Muslim Battalion of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, retired Colonel Boris Kerimbaev, has died at the age of 71 in Kazakhstan.

Kerimbaev died in Almaty on February 12.

He gained prominence in 1981-83 when he commanded the Soviet Army's 177th special battalion, which was formed in Kazakhstan and consisted mainly of soldiers recruited from Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union.

A major at the time, Kerimbaev was known among the mujahedin who fought against the Soviet forces as Kara Major (Black Major).

In 1982, Kerimbaev's group reached a cease-fire agreement with Afghan forces led by Ahmad Shah Masud in the Panjshir Valley, 70 kilometers north of Kabul.

The truce ended a nine-month standoff that ensued after forces under Kerimbaev took control of strategic roads linking the valley with Kabul. One of its conditions was the withdrawal of Kerimbaev's troops from the valley.

Kerimbaev resigned from the army in 1992, months after Kazakhstan gained independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

His death came three days before the 30th anniversary of the completion of the Soviet military's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

Based on reporting by Meduza and Tengrinews

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