Since soldiers first appeared on Northern Ireland's streets on August 14 1969, the Army witnessed and was involved in some of the darkest hours of the Troubles. A total of 722 soldiers died during Operation Banner, which ran from 1969 to 2007. The Army was also accused of murdering civilians during those decades of bloodshed. To some, troops were peacekeepers who helped in the battle to maintain law and order as the region teetered on the brink of civil war; to others they were an occupying force who used violence indiscriminately against nationalists and republicans, with rogue members even working in cahoots with loyalist paramilitaries.
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