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Macron inaugurates monument in honour of French soldiers killed overseas

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the inauguration of a memorial for soldiers fallen in foreign conflicts in Paris, France November 11, 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the inauguration of a memorial for soldiers fallen in foreign conflicts in Paris, France November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated on Monday a monument in memory of hundreds of French soldiers who have died in foreign operations since the end of the Algerian war in 1963.

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The monument, a bronze sculpture of six soldiers, five men and a woman wearing caps or berets and solemnly carrying an invisible coffin, was unveiled at the André Citroën Park in the 15th arrondissement (district) of Paris.

"On this wall, in stone, we have engraved your memory," a solemn Macron said.

Engraved on the wall beside the sculpture are the names of 549 soldiers, including two women, killed in 17 overseas military operations. Of these, 141 died in Lebanon, 129 in Chad, 85 in Afghanistan and 78 in the former Yugoslavia.

“The monument has three objectives: First, to send a message to our troops that France recognises their commitment to the nation, which sometimes entails making the ultimate sacrifice; it’s a place for families to gather; and finally, it’s meant to show the French people how defending liberty involve external military operations that demand total commitment,” Deputy Defence Minister Geneviève Darrieussecq was quoted as saying on Monday by French daily ‘Le Figaro’.

The last serving soldier to die on an overseas battlefield was Corporal Ronan Pointeau, who was killed November 2 in Mali, where 23 French soldiers have perished during counterterror missions in the increasingly volatile Sahel region.

Around 4,500 French troops are stationed on the ground and in the air under Operation Barkhane, an anti-insurgency mission that spans Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Together, they make up the G5 Sahel grouping of the former French colonies in the scrubland zone between the Sahara and the African savanna.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)
 

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