- Operation Storm-333
Operation Storm-333 Part of The Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Tajbeg Palace in 1987. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev
Date December 27, 1979 Location Tajbeg Palace, Kabul, Soviet Afghanistan Result Soviet decisive victory
overthrow and assassination of Hafizullah Amin
Soviet advances the control of Soviet Afghanistan
Belligerents Soviet Union Afghanistan Soviet Republic Commanders and leaders Capt. Y.Drozdov
Lt. Grigoriy Boyarinov †
Hafizullah Amin † Units involved Alpha Group
VDV Air Troops
Army National Guards
Strength 30 from Alpha Group
30 from Vympel Group
30 from Zenith Group
520 "Muslim battalion"
2,500 Army Guards Casualties and losses 19 killed
Operation Storm-333 («Шторм-333») was the codename of the Soviet special forces operation on December 27, 1979 in which Soviet special forces stormed the Tajbeg Palace in Afghanistan and killed President Hafizullah Amin and his 200 personal guards. His eleven year old son died due to shrapnel wounds.
Several other government buildings were seized during the operation, including the Ministry of Interior building, the Internal Security (KHAD) building, and the General Staff building (Darul Aman Palace). Alpha Group's veterans call this operation one of the most successful in the group's history.
Soviet forces and losses
Taking part in the operation were 24 men from «Гром» ("Thunder") unit of Alpha Group , GRU, and 30 operators from another special KGB group: «Зенит» ("Zenith"). There were also 520 men from the 154th Separate Spetsnaz Detachment of the USSR Ministry of Defence, known as the "Muslim battalion" because it consisted exclusively of soldiers from the southern republics of the USSR, and 87 troops of a company of 345 Guards Airborne Regiment  These support troops were not issued armor or helmets, but one of them recalls that a magazine tucked inside his clothes protected him from an SMG bullet. The GRU and KGB units were clad in bullet-proof vests and helmets; this proved crucial, because Amin's personal guards were armed only with submachine guns, which were not able to penetrate the Soviet vests.
In the operation Alpha Group lost 2 men, Zenith group lost 3, the Muslim battalion 9, and the Air Landing company 5. More than 50 were wounded in total.
Controversy about Soviet losses
According to Mitrokhin Archive, "over a hundred of the KGB troops were killed before the palace was taken and Amin gunned down". Although co-writer Christopher Andrew does concede that the higher figure may have consisted of all "casualties" and not just deaths.
- Lyakhovskiy, Aleksandr (January 2007). "Inside the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Seizure of Kabul, December 1979". Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/WP51_Web_Final.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- Grau, Lester. "The Take-Down of Kabul: An Effective Coup de Main". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2002/MOUTGrau.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
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