Australian special forces probed for alleged war crimes

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia is investigating more than 50 alleged war crimes by the country’s special forces in Afghanistan, including the killing of civilians and prisoners, the military watchdog said yesterday.

An annual report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force said 55 separate incidents were being investigated as part of a years-long probe into allegations Australian soldiers committed war crimes while serving in Afghanistan.

These relate mainly to unlawful killings of “persons who were non-combatants or were no longer combatants” as well as “cruel treatment” of such persons, the report said.

“The inquiry is not focussed on decisions made during the ‘heat of battle’,” it added.

It is also considering “cultural, psychological, operational and organisational factors” surrounding the alleged incidents.

The probe was launched in 2016 in response to what the watchdog called “rumours” of “very serious wrongdoing” over more than a decade by members of Australian special forces in Afghanistan.