Updated Nov 19, 2020 - World

Australia finds evidence of war crimes by elite troops in Afghanistan

Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, in Canberra on November 19
Chief of the Australian Defense Force General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defense Force Afghanistan Inquiry, in Canberra Thursday morning local time. Photo: Mick Tasikas/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Allegations that elite Australian Defense Force troops unlawfully killed 39 civilians or prisoners in Afghanistan are "credible," said ADF chief Gen. Angus Campbell, announcing findings of a long-awaited report Thursday.

Driving the news: The findings came after a four-year inquiry into alleged war crimes and misconduct by Australia's elite special forces. The report finds most of the people killed in 23 incidents were prisoners and that those who died were "non-combatants or no longer combatants."

Of note: It would be a "gross distortion" to blame senior ADF command for the alleged crimes that it found were "commenced" and "concealed at the patrol commander level."

What they're saying: None of the deaths that occurred could be "described as being in the heat of battle," Campbell noted during a news news conference in Australia's capital, Canberra.

  • "The unlawful killing of civilians and prisoners is never acceptable," Campbell said. "Today, the Australian Defense Force is rightly held to account for allegations of grave misconduct."
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called him ahead of the report's release to express "his deepest sorrow over the misconduct by some Australian troops in Afghanistan" and assured him "of the investigations and to ensuring justice," per SBS.

Read the report findings, via DocumentCloud:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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