The Australian Special Forces committed war crimes during the war in Afghanistan, including the unlawful killing of 39 people.
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The claim went viral in November 2020, after the publication of the Brereton Report.
Earlier this month, the Australian Department of Defense released an inquiry on whether or not war crimes were committed by special forces. Since the report was released – commonly referred to as the Brereton document – there have been several developments in the story. Some opinion pieces argue on whether or not the veterans should be prosecuted, while others say there should be a reorganization in the armed forces as a whole.
The Department of Defense’s report is extensive and reveals some harrowing acts. The document’s stating goal is to figure out if there is “any substance” to the rumors surrounding the Australian special forces, not to persecute any parties involved.
As it says in the introduction, “The short and sad answer to that question is that there is substance to those rumours." 39 people were killed unjustly, while two were subject to overly harsh treatment. There were 25 perpetrators. These war crimes consisted of “framing” unarmed combatants by placing firearms on their person, so as to absolve themselves of killing unarmed combatants. Some new recruits were told to kill prisoners, so as to get a “first kill." Many of these occurrences were covered up through cover stories, the aforementioned act, and coerced silence.
Australian Defense Force Chief Angus Campbell said that there may have been even more illegal killings than the report indicated.
Time will tell as to what consequences (if any) the perpetrators will face.