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Georgian soldier dies in Afghanistan

December 31, 2011, 16:02 UTC+3

Corporal Besik Niniashvili died from a mine explosion while on a mission, the Georgia Defence Ministry said on Saturday

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TBILISI, December 31 (Itar-Tass) - A serviceman from the Georgian peacekeeping battalion has died in Afghanistan.

Corporal Besik Niniashvili died from a mine explosion while on a mission, the Georgia Defence Ministry said on Saturday, December 31.

The corporal was serving in the Georgian peacekeeping battalion under the U.S. command in the Helmand Province. He had served in the Georgian Air Force since 2007 and had been awarded a medal for service and a medal for participation in peacekeeping operations.

Corporal Niniashvili is the 11th Georgia serviceman to have died in Afghanistan during the Georgian peacekeeping contingent’s tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The Georgian peacekeepers have been in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) since November 2009 when 175 servicemen were deployed to Kabul. A total of 925 personnel have been serving in the Georgian contingent since April 2010 and up to date, including 750 in under U.S. command in the Helmand Province, and 175 under French command in Kabul.

The Georgian battalion is the second largest military unit sent to Afghanistan by non-NATO member states.

On August 15, 2009, the first group of American instructors arrived in Georgia. On September 1, approximately 65 Marines started training the Georgian army battalion in counterinsurgency tactics. The battalion was intended for deployment in the Helmand Province, controlled by the Taliban, in southern Afghanistan.

The servicemen from the Georgian battalion underwent intensive training in Georgia under the direction of members of the training and advisory group of U.S. Marines, after which the battalion went to Afghanistan to join the peacekeeping operation under the command of the U.S. expedition brigade.

After the training, the Georgian battalion left for Afghanistan in the spring of 2010 to serve under the command of the U.S. contingent.

The Georgian battalion in Afghanistan rotates every six months, and American instructors helped train other battalions in Georgia this year for service in Afghanistan.

Georgia participated in the operation in Afghanistan before - 50 Georgians served there in the autumn of 2004.

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