Afghanistan celebrates “Liberation Day” on 15 February – or 26 Dalwo on the native Afghan Calendar – to mark the day in 1989 when the last Soviet soldier left its soil. The holiday has been observed since 2007.
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The struggle that Liberation Day looks back to was long and complex. In 1978, a coup took over in Afghanistan and set up a pro-Soviet government. Many Islamic leaders opposed this new government for its secular tendencies, and the US began to support the opposition as part of the Cold War.
But in December of 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, being invited by some in the government who feared US-backed efforts to overthrow them would succeed. This led to a long, bloody guerrilla war that ultimately destroyed the morale of the Soviet invaders. After 10 years trying to subdue Afghanistan but failing, they began a gradual withdrawal of troops that was not complete until 15 February, 1989.