06/08/2011 03:12 EDT | Updated 08/08/2011 05:12 EDT

Canadian Soldiers In Afghanistan Bury Memorial Stones To Fallen Comrades

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- MA'SUM GHAR, Afghanistan - A symbol of Canadian blood and sacrifice, etched into the crusted hillside of a forward operating base in Kandahar for nearly four-and-a-half years, will be buried and left behind in Afghanistan.

The Maple Leaf rock mural at Ma'sum Ghar started as a tribute to five soldiers killed during the landmark battle of Pashmul, known as Operation Medusa.

But throughout the years, the memorial had grown as white marker stones were placed to honour additional casualties.

A total of 59 stones, representing 72 soldiers who operated out of Ma'sum Ghar, were buried in a trench at the base of the memorial in a moving sunset ceremony today by members of the Royal 22e Regiment battle group.

The U.S. is about to take over the base, which has been a lynch pin in the Canadian army's war in western Kandahar.

The memorial was originally built in the winter of 2007 by Americans and South Africans whose bomb-sniffing dogs accompanied troops into the field during the first year of the deployment in Kandahar.