Watch How French Troops and Indian Soldiers March Through Syria 70 Years ago

C’ette fois, c’est la guerre. This time, it’s war. Those were the words of French President Francois Hollande after terrorists attacked Paris, killing 129 people and injuring hundreds of others. French jets immediately began attacking targets in territory held by the Islamic State, while European powers have began preparing for a battle that might include boots on the ground.

It wouldn’t be the first time Syrian territory played host to European soldiers. In 1940, Syria had come under the rule of Vichy France, the Axis-powered rump state that had been left behind after Germany invaded France. The Axis powers, who were already fighting the Allied nations in Iraq, were hoping to use the Syrian territory to launch an invasion of Egypt.

By 1941, the Allied powers decided they would have to take back Syria from Vichy France. Troops of the Free French Forces – the French troops that hadn’t been commandeered by the Axis powers – alongside British and other Allied troops took part in Operation Exporter, an invasion of Syria and France.

The troops included Free French brigades, Australian Divisions as well as the 10th Indian Infantry Division and several other Indian brigades were part of the offensive that would eventually capture Syria and Lebanon, and later gave both the countries independence before the end of the World War. The video above, from the British Movietone archives, shows the colonial troops prepared to head into war, and then suddenly veers off to showing the snowcapped mountains of the region, where it so happened, the British troops learned to ski.

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