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Soviets Pull Last Units Out of Afghan Capital : Will Not Surrender, Najibullah Vows

February 06, 1989|From Times Wire Services

KABUL, Afghanistan — The last Soviet soldier left this besieged capital city Sunday, Soviet media reported, and President Najibullah vowed that his fragile government will not succumb to the rebel onslaught expected after the Soviets complete their withdrawal.

In a report monitored by the British Broadcasting Corp. in London, Moscow Radio quoted today's edition of the Communist Party newspaper Pravda as reporting that "on Sunday, the last Soviet soldier left Kabul." It said Soviet soldiers remain in other parts of the country, including at the airport just outside Kabul, but that they are moving toward the border.

In Iran, representatives of the Afghan resistance meeting in Tehran signed a cooperation pact Sunday, clearing the way for a united front against the Kabul regime, Iran's foreign minister said.

Meanwhile, the Soviet news agency Tass said Kabul is "effectively under martial law," adding that some new security measures had been taken in the capital. It said tensions had begun to rise as Soviet troops pulled out, just 10 days ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline for withdrawal.

In Kabul on Sunday, Najibullah told members of the ruling People's Democratic Party that his Marxist government will survive the rebel onslaught despite the Soviet pullout after a decade-long occupation.

"God is with us. The people are with us. We will win the war," Najibullah told about 10,000 party members who gathered in bitter cold near the presidential palace.

The crowd chanted "Down with imperialism" and brandished thousands of unloaded Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Weapons have been distributed among party organizations in Kabul "so that every one of us could defend the cause," said Daud Razmyar, first secretary of the Kabul city committee of the ruling party.

"The Russian armies are leaving the country, and we will defend ourselves," said the 43-year-old Najibullah, dressed in combat fatigues. "We have to be strong. We have to unite."

As he spoke, more than a dozen Soviet transport planes streaked off in different directions, spewing flares designed to deflect heat-seeking missiles used by the guerrillas. Artillery fire could be heard in the distance.

Soviet officials in Kabul said today that the last troop convoy left the capital Saturday. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a battalion of about 1,000 Soviet soldiers will remain at the airport, on the outskirts of the city, to assist the supply airlift into the capital. They are not expected to pull out until Feb. 12 or Feb. 14, the officials said.

In Iran, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said the Afghan moujahedeen delegates "finally signed an agreement for cooperation about a future government for Afghanistan." He refused to give details of the accord.

The Afghan resistance movement is split into two groups: the minority Shiite alliance, based in Iran, and the larger Sunni coalition in Pakistan.

The pact came after weeks of negotiations and clears the way for a united front against the Kabul regime, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said.

The news agency said it is believed the two sides agreed on the number of seats each will take in a proposed national representative council, which they hope will lead to an interim government to replace Najibullah's regime.

The Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan in December, 1979. Under a U.N.-mediated accord, Moscow agreed last year to withdraw all of its estimated 115,000 troops by Feb. 15.

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