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Georgia mourns its soldiers

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, May 17
May 16 is a day of mourning for Georgia. The bodies of Junior Sergeant Zviad Davitadze, Corporal Alexandre Kvitsinadze and Corporal Vladimer Shanava, who were killed earlier this week in Afghanistan, arrived in Georgia for burial on Thursday.

Georgian Minister of Defence Irakli Alasania visited the 4th Infantry Brigade in Vaziani where the late soldiers had served in the 42nd Battalion. After a moment of silence in respect of the memory of those slain, the Minister addressed their brothers-in arm stressing that this is the heaviest day for the Georgian Armed Forces and the country as a whole.

Alasania said the three soldiers sacrificed their lives for the better future of a country far away from their homeland. "It was a great blow for me as I celebrated Easter with these heroes on the Shir Ghazay base and knew them personally." the Minister said before stressing that it is the fate of the most worthy people to sacrifice their lives for their country.

Alasania said such devotion from soldiers will lead to a united and strong Georgia. "God bless the Georgian Armed Forces." he said.

The bodies of military servicemen killed in Helmand Province on May 13th were transferred to Georgia and a funeral was held at Kashueti St. George Cathedral in Tbilisi; afterwards their bodies were transferred to their homes.

The wife of the late Corporal Kvitsinadze said she is proud of her husband despite the great grief the family has experienced. "It seems to be our fate." she said in tears.

Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and Georgian army commanders, as well as the fallen soldiers' family members attended the repatriation ceremony at Tbilisi Airport.

US charge d’affaires Bridget Brink expressed condolences towards the families of the fallen soldiers on behalf of the U.S. Embassy. Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia William Lahue also expressed his respect towards the Georgian heroes who he said have sacrificed their lives not only for the security of Georgia, but for the entire world.

National flags were lowered at every state building in Georgia to honor the three Georgian soldiers as well as at all Georgian embassies abroad.

With its 1,560 servicemen Georgia is the largest non-NATO troop contributor in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. 22 Georgian soldiers have been killed as part of the ISAF mission.