Australia’s top military official, General Angus Campbell, admitted on Thursday (19) that there was credible evidence that the country’s special forces “illegally killed” at least 39 Afghan civilians and non-combatants after the publication of a long investigation.
“To the Afghan people, on behalf of the Australian Defense Force, I sincerely and unreservedly apologize for any reprehensible acts on the part of Australian soldiers,” said General Campbell.
“Some patrols ignored the law, rules were broken, stories were made up, lies were told and prisoners were killed,” added the Australian army’s top official.
The 25 members of the special forces accused of breaking the rules in 23 incidents “contaminated” his regiment, the armed forces and Australia, added the general, recommending opening a war crimes trial.
“This shameful assessment includes alleged cases where new patrol members were forced to shoot a prisoner to commit their first murder, in a horrible practice known as ‘bleeding’,” revealed Campbell.
The general called for the revocation of some medals awarded to the special operations forces that served in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, more than 26,000 Australian soldiers were sent to Afghanistan to fight alongside the United States and allied forces against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamic groups.
Australian combat troops left the country in 2013, but since then a series of reports, sometimes brutal, about the conduct of elite special forces units have surfaced.
The Australian press echoed several very serious charges against the Australian military, such as the case of a man who was killed to make room in a helicopter or a six-year-old boy murdered during a home search.
The case went public in 2017, when ABC broadcaster released the “Afghan Archives”, a series of investigations in which Australian forces were accused of killing unarmed men and children in Afghanistan.
In response, the police opened an investigation against two journalists on that channel, Daniel Oakes and Sam Clark, suspected of being in possession of confidential files. The network’s headquarters in Sydney were raided last year, but the case was dismissed.
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