World News

Golan Heights: Canada Lowers Flag

26 March 2006 at 03:37 | 632 views

Canadian Forces(photo) lowered the Maple Leaf on the Golan Heights Friday, ending a 32-year peacekeeping presence in the region.

’Clearly the big mission is in Afghanistan that’s where our big mission is.’ - Maj.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command
There were bagpipes, hugs, tears and cheers with senior military personnel on hand for the ceremony known as a "draw down."

The Golan Heights area lies across Israel’s northern border in Syria.

"We’ve made an important contribution," Maj.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command, told CBC News.

"There are some critical skill sets that we’ve committed to that mission over time and we need to shift those to other areas now," he said.

Only two Canadian soldiers will be left with the force by summer.

The Golan Heights force was set up after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to monitor the ceasefire. For a generation, Canadian soldiers have provided logistical and communications services to the operation.

"The reality is that our missions will shift over time," Gauthier said.

"And clearly the big mission is in Afghanistan, that’s where our big mission is."

The Canadians will be replaced by other members of the United Nations mission, which is made up of Austrian, Indian and Japanese soldiers.

The Canada-Israel Committee said in a statement that it was sorry to see the Canadians go.

The group praised "the excellent work and professionalism that Canadian Forces have played in monitoring and supervising" in the region.

Comments