Australia to discharge 13 soldiers after Afghan war crimes probe

Australia’s army on Friday moved todischarge 13 soldiers following a damning report into conduct in Afghanistanthat prosecutors believe may have constituted war crimes, reports AFP.

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

A years-long investigation last week reported that Australia’s elitespecial forces “unlawfully killed” 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan,including by summary execution as part of initiation rituals.

It recommended 19 individuals be referred to Australian Federal Police,compensation be paid to the families of victims, and that the military carry out a slew 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 astronger, 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 uniformedpersonnel were sent to Afghanistan to fight alongside US and allied forcesagainst the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups. 

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