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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.

Go deeper

Dec 1, 2020 - World

U.S. and Australia to develop hypersonic missiles

A Royal Australian Air Force Super Hornet on exercise Nigrum Pugio in Australia in October. The hypersonic missiles will be carried by such planes. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

The Australian government announced Tuesday it will partner with the U.S. to make hypersonic cruise missiles to rival those being developed by China and Russia.

Details: Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement the government would "continue to invest in advanced capabilities" to give the Australian Defense Force "more options to deter aggression against Australia's interests."

25 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

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