Feb 23, 2024 15:10 UTC
  • UK forces committed 'war crimes' in Afghanistan: Minister

John Mercer, the British veterans minister, recounted the "terrible" stories he had heard from ex-Afghan special forces members about the killing of defenseless prisoners, including children, by the UK's elite Special Air Service (SAS).

He said on Tuesday that the SAS members had committed "war crimes" as he spoke during his second day of testimony at a public inquiry set up to investigate accusations made in media reports that SAS members killed civilians and unarmed prisoners during operations in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2013.

He stated that there is sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation into potential breaches of international law committed by certain SAS personnel during their deployment in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2013.

He said they included accounts of the SAS executing detainees, including children, who had already been restrained and posed no threat. He added there was "no reason why a person under control should lose their life".

The testimony signals a “culture of omerta” – a code of silence, originally attributed to the Italian mafia –within Britain’s Special Forces.

The inquiry is examining the conduct of elite SAS troops in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2013, including the killing of 33 people in eleven night raids in 2011.

It comes as a group of lawyers said in early July 2023 that British forces may have summarily executed 80 Afghan civilians between 2010 and 2013 during the US-led military occupation of Afghanistan.

One of the elite soldiers from the UK’s elite Special Air Services (SAS) is believed to have “personally killed” 35 Afghans on a single six-month tour of duty as part of a policy to terminate “all fighting-age males” in homes raided, “regardless of the threat they posed,” the lawyers representing the victim families unveiled at a public inquiry.

British forces were among the largest contingents of the US-led NATO military alliance forces that invaded Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021.

However, after 20 years of their military occupation of the country -- marked by many reports of war crimes against Afghan civilians and militants by the US-led forces -- terror acts remained prevalent across the country and the Taliban rule was re-established in Kabul.

Meanwhile, Afghan families demand a transparent and impartial investigation into atrocities and wrongdoings committed by British SAS troops and other Western forces during the military occupation of Afghanistan.