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Tenth Georgian Death in Afghanistan

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 2
Staff Sergeant Rezo Beridze succumbed to his wounds sustained in an attack “by the Taliban during patrolling” in an unspecified area in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. This was confirmed by the Georgian Ministry of Defense on September 1 but provided no other details—a standard practice when the Ministry reports on Georgian fatalities in Afghanistan. The Ministry expressed condolences to the family and pledged that “the soldier's family will receive social assistance as defined by Georgian legislation.”

The only details given by Georgia's Ministry of Defense were that Staff Sergeant Beridze from the 3rd Infantry Brigade was serving in the NATO-led ISAF mission in Helmand Province and that he was attacked by Taliban soldiers while patrolling the area. His remains have been transferred to Georgia. Staff Sergeant Beridze had served in the Georgian Armed Forces since 2002 and had participated in a peacekeeping mission in Iraq.

The President of Georgia expressed his deep regrets for the death of a Georgian soldier in Afghanistan. Mikheil Saakashvili extended his condolences to the family of the deceased soldier, to his comrades in arms and to the Georgian people.

Continuing statements from the authorities reflect the view that Georgian participation in peace missions have a great importance for the state, and that along with strong and influential countries, smaller states should also contribute to peace keeping in the world. According to the authorities Georgia’s participation in the missions seriously increases Georgia’s authority worldwide. This attitude is not shared by members of the opposition who consider that Georgia--which currently has one of the largest representations in Afghanistan--should reduce the number of its troops. Helmand Province, where Georgians are assigned, is the most dangerous place in Afghanistan and Georgians should not be sacrificed to “the President’s obstinacy."

Military analyst Irakli Sesiashvili told The Messenger that Georgia will not decrease the number of units in Afghanistan “as Georgian soldiers being there is in the interest of Saakashvili since he needs the support of the West and the United States to recognize his or his team’s winning the elections, even if the elections were to be fraudulent.”