British commandos committed war crimes in Afghanistan: BBC
One SAS squadron may have massacred around 54 Afghan civilians during a six-month tour in Afghanistan.
A new Panorama documentary revealed disturbing evidence of SAS war crimes in Afghanistan, BBC reported.
A clear pattern of unlawful killings of Afghans by a squadron of SAS commandos during night raids appears to have emerged, with as many as 54 victims over a six-month period.
The revelations, which could lead to war crimes charges, were vehemently denied by the UK Ministry of Defense, which claimed that allegations of unlawful conduct by commandos had previously been thoroughly investigated.
In a statement, the ministry said: “Neither investigation found sufficient evidence to prosecute. Insinuating otherwise is irresponsible, incorrect, and puts our brave Armed Forces personnel at risk both in the field and reputationally.”
Conversely, the BBC argued that Royal Military Police (RMP) investigators had been obstructed by military leadership.
General Mark Carleton-Smith, then-head of the UK Special Forces, failed to share evidence of misconduct with the investigation, as per BBC.
"Executions were carried out at a close range"
The new documentary expands on an earlier BBC investigation into SAS night raids in Afghanistan.
An anonymous source provided the outlet with hundreds of contemporaneous military reports, not to mention operational accounts filed by the squadron after missions.
It is worth noting that the BBC was able to identify some of the raid locations and traveled to Afghanistan to speak with witnesses and collect forensic evidence, such as images of bullet holes in walls.
In many cases, what has been discovered during these trips contradicted what the SAS team had reported about killing enemy combatants in firefights or retaliating with lethal force when detainees pulled concealed weapons during a search.
According to experts, what the BBC discovered on the ground in three locations indicated that executions were carried out at the close range.
In November 2010, the squadron in question was deployed to Helmand province for a six-month tour.
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A pattern of suspicious killings
The documents examined revealed a pattern of suspicious killings justified by the discovery of weapons on the scene, according to the BBC.
Those weapons, which included AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, may have been planted by British troops as justification for killing people who posed no threat in the first place as per reports, the broadcaster suggested.
The report added that the squadron "was attempting to outnumber the one it had replaced”, stressing that the total number of people killed during the tour was in the triple digits.
The team's post-raid reports piqued the officers' interest at the time, who described them as "quite incredible" and referred to the missions as the squadron's "latest massacre."
According to the BBC, a high-ranking Special Forces officer in Afghanistan warned in a secret memo that there could be a "deliberate policy" of extrajudicial killings of fighting-age males.
An infrequent internal investigation was ordered, but the investigating Special Forces officer "appeared to take the SAS version of events at face value," according to the documentary.
Efforts to disturb investigations
The evidence was classified and was not shared with military police, who conducted a separate murder investigation linked to one of the raids in 2013.
It is worth noting that the RMP launched Operation Northmoor in 2014 to investigate over 600 alleged offenses committed by British forces in Afghanistan.
Some of the SAS squadron's killings were on the list, BBC reported.
It went on to say that RMP investigators revealed to them that the British military had hampered their efforts to gather evidence.
During the 1839-1842 Anglo-Afghan war, the British empire was humiliated in Afghanistan, but following the Sept. 11 Al-Qaeda attacks, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair joined US President George W. Bush in invading Afghanistan under the guise of overthrowing the Taliban.
The United States and its various western allies, including the United Kingdom, are behind many war crimes in Afghanistan, which they committed as part of their 20-year-long occupation of the country.
The United States even went out of its way to commit a war crime against Afghan civilians following its incredibly chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which saw hundreds upon hundreds flocking toward the airport, stampedes, and abandoned allies. There even was a scene that reminded the world of the American withdrawal from Vietnam's Saigon, during which they air-lifted their staff off of the embassy's roof.
Despite killing tens of thousands of civilians during their occupation, US soldiers opened fire on the crowd outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing several civilians, including women and children.
The United Kingdom helped Washington do its bidding in Afghanistan, and British troops are just as complicit in all the crimes and the chaotic withdrawal as their American counterparts.