[December 1-16, 1979] The Soviets increased the size of their garrisons at the two air bases in Kabul, and began secret preparations for the ouster of Amin. A partial mobiliztion of Soviet troops just north of Afghanistan was quietly initiated. The Kremlin apparently feared that the mujahedeen would overthrow Amin and end Soviet influence in Afghanistan, and were determined to prevent this at any cost.
[December 24, 1979] The Soviet seizure of Kabul Airport was done by special Soviet forces, directed by First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs (MVD) Lieutenant General V.S. Paputin.
[December 25-28, 1979] A massive airlift of Soviet troops began on Christmas Day. Three airborne divisions - 103rd, 104th, and 105th - were flown in while four motorized rifle divisions invaded Afghanistan overland from the north. The 105th Division occupied Kabul against considerable resistance from elements of the Afghan Army and the local population. Amin and his ministers were isolated in his palace. A Soviet task force attacked the palace and Amin was killed, either in the fighting or by execution. General Paputin was also killed during the battle.
[December 28, 1979] Amin's former Vice President, Babrak Karmal, then ambassador to Czechoslovakia, was recalled by the Soviets to become president.
[January-February 1980] Following the initial success of the December coup, opposition to the Soviets became widespread and fierce. Convoys were ambushed and numerous armored vehicles were destroyed. Several towns held by the Soviets were surrounded and besieged by mujahedeen. Soviet activities were constrained by the severe weather conditions that prevailed in Afghanistan in January and February.
[February 21-23, 1980] An uprising in Kabul was crushed by Soviet troops. About 500 Afghans were killed and another 1,200 jailed.