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Falklands: Red Cross to begin ID of Argentine troop remains

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/06/2017
Laurent Corbaz, leading the Humanitarian Project Plan on Falkland Islands of the International Committee of the Red Cross, right, Lorenzo Caraffi, Red Cross Head of Delegation for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, center, and the head of the Red Cross mission in Buenos Aires, Diego Alonso Rojas Coronel attend a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, June 1, 2017. The Red Cross will work to identify the remains of unidentified Argentine soldiers that died during war with Britain and buried in Darwin cemetery on the Falkland Islands. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) © The Associated Press Laurent Corbaz, leading the Humanitarian Project Plan on Falkland Islands of the International Committee of the Red Cross, right, Lorenzo Caraffi, Red Cross Head of Delegation for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, center, and the head of the Red Cross mission in Buenos Aires, Diego Alonso Rojas Coronel attend a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, June 1, 2017. The Red Cross will work to identify the remains of unidentified Argentine soldiers that died during war with Britain and buried in Darwin cemetery on the Falkland Islands. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A team of forensic experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it is about to start identifying the remains of 123 Argentine soldiers buried in a Falklands Island cemetery after the 1982 war.

Argentina lost a brief but bloody conflict with Britain after Argentine troops invaded the South Atlantic archipelago. Both countries reached a deal last year to identify the remains of the fallen soldiers.

Red Cross officials said the process will begin June 19.

"We're realistic and not naive. Identifying 100 percent of them will not be possible," Laurent Corbaz, who heads the project for the Red Cross, said at a news conference in Buenos Aires.

Ten forensic experts will carry out exhumations and the remains will be collected at a laboratory near Darwin Cemetery. They will then be sent to Argentina, where they will be compared with DNA samples from family members of some of the fallen soldiers. Laboratories in Britain and Spain will also be involved in this process.

Corbaz said the team expects several challenges, including a lack of "DNA presence" since the land where the bodies were buried is acidic and "not good" for the preservation of remains. He also said several dead soldiers were buried in one of the 123 tombs, complicating identification.

In all, the war claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 British soldiers.

The South American country still claims the South Atlantic islands, which it calls the Malvinas. Britain says the Falklands are a self-governing entity under its protection.

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