The Australian army made it public on Thursday that several soldiers from its elite units had killed a total of 39 civilians in Afghanistan, the CNN. General Angus John Campbell, commander of the Australian Armed Forces, said on Thursday that 25 soldiers from the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) trained for special missions had been proven to have killed prisoners and other civilians during their deployments.
Australia In 2016, he launched an investigation into the activities of elite formations between 2005 and 2016, following allegations in the Afghan media that Australian soldiers had repeatedly murdered unarmed men and children.
The Australian Army’s internal audit report found that it had credible information on war crimes, on all 23 incidents in which 30 people were killed by 25 members of the SASR, General Campbell said. According to the report, none of the murders took place in the heat of the fighting or in circumstances in which the perpetrator’s intent would have been the result of a vague, confusing, or mistake. He also stressed that the soldiers who testified in the case were aware of the law of war and the rules governing their operations in Afghanistan.
Prosecutions against the offending soldiers will be decided by the Australian judiciary on the basis of further investigations.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the Australian public last week that the report would provide “difficult and serious news” for Australians.
Australia joined the U.S. force in Afghanistan in 2002 as an ally of the United States.
Cover Image: General Angus John Campbell, commander of the Australian Armed Forces, will hold a press conference on 19 November on the outcome of an investigation into the war crimes of Australian elite units serving in Afghanistan. Photo: Mick Tsikas / Getty Images