Australia to fire 13 troops over war crimes in Afghanistan
Iran Press TV
Friday, 27 November 2020 7:07 AM
Australia has sent notices of likely dismissal to a number of troops after a damning military report confirmed last week that its forces murdered dozens of civilians or prisoners in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
The head of the Australian army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, said that 13 current soldiers have been issued with notices that could eventually lead to their termination.
They are suspected of being witnesses to the killings, or of being dishonest in testifying.
"At this time, 13 individuals have been issued administrative action notices in relation to the Afghanistan inquiry," he said on Friday.
They have two weeks to respond to the notices, Burr said.
"We are all committed to learning from the inquiry and emerging from this a stronger, more capable and effective army," he added.
The findings of an investigation published last week confirmed that Australian soldiers "unlawfully" killed at least 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
The report found that senior commandos forced junior soldiers to kill defenseless captives in order to "blood" the troops for combat.
It also recommended referring 19 current and former soldiers for potential prosecution. The 13 soldiers are separate from those 19 troops, however.
In a reaction to the report, Afghanistan called the murders unforgivable.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised the establishment of an independent oversight panel to provide "accountability and transparency that sits outside of the ADF chain of command".
Australia, which is not a member of NATO, has had an active role in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.
In May, it sent an additional 30 troops to Afghanistan to join the NATO-led mission against the Taliban and other militant groups, bringing its total Afghan deployment to 400 troops.
The US-led invasion removed the Taliban militant group from power but has failed to stop its militant activities in the country. The ongoing chaos has also paved the way for the Daesh terror group to gain a foothold in Afghanistan's east.
Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an investigation into alleged war crimes by the US and its allies in the Afghan war.
A report from the ICC said four years ago that there was a reasonable basis to believe the US military had committed torture at secret detention sites.
In another development, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called for Britain on Thursday "to open an independent public inquiry to review and investigate the allegations of unlawful killings by UK Special Forces."
"The US and UK, and other countries with an armed presence in Afghanistan [should] respond to these media reports, and to investigate their forces' participation, and leadership, of acts of violence against Afghan non-combatants," said the AIHRC.
In a report last year, BBC said that the UK had failed to fully investigate credible evidence of a pattern of illegal killings carried out by its troops in Afghanistan.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|