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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 6, 2020 - World

Microwave energy likely behind illnesses of American diplomats in Cuba and China

Personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba in Havana in 2017. Photo: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images

A radio frequency energy of radiation that includes microwaves likely caused American diplomats in China and Cuba to fall ill with neurological symptoms over the past four years, a report published Saturday finds.

Why it matters: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's report does not attribute blame for the suspected attacks, but it notes there "was significant research in Russia/USSR into the effects of pulsed, rather than continuous wave [radio frequency] exposures."

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

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