Australia to discharge 13 soldiers after Afghan war crimes probe

Australia to discharge 13 soldiers after Afghan war crimes probe

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Sydney: Australia’s army on Friday moved to discharge 13 soldiers following a damning report into conduct in Afghanistan that prosecutors believe may have constituted war crimes.

Army chief Rick Burr said the personnel had been served “administrative action notices,” which would terminate their service in two weeks unless they successfully appealed.

A multi-year investigation report conducted last week stated that elite Australian special forces “unlawfully killed” 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan, including summary executions as part of the initial ceremony.

It recommended that 19 people be transferred to the Australian Federal Police, compensated the families of the victims, and asked the military to carry out a series of reforms.

Burr said due process must now be respected as the military looks to bring those responsible for wrongdoing to justice.

“We are all committed to learning from the inquiry and emerging from this a stronger, more capable and effective army,” he said.

“Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, more than 26,000 Australian uniformed personnel were sent to Afghanistan to fight alongside US and allied forces against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other groups.

Australian combat troops officially left the country in late 2013, but since then a series of often-brutal accounts have emerged about the conduct of elite special forces units. 

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