Special Investigator To Examine Alleged War Crimes By Australian SAS

Members of the Australian Special Forces have been accused of 55 unlawful killings between 2005 and 2016.

Australia is appointing a special investigator to examine possible war crimes by its troops in Afghanistan.

The inquiry will centre on the conduct of Australian Special Forces personnel and the alleged deaths of civilians and prisoners.

Members of Australia's SAS have been accused of executing suspected militants and abusing unarmed civilians.

The allegations reportedly include 55 unlawful killings carried out by members of Australia’s Special Operations Task Group between 2005 and 2016, including the deaths of unarmed men and children.

An investigation has been ongoing for four years, looking at evidence provided by hundreds of troops.

Australia's Defence Force Inspector-General is expected to publish a long-awaited report into the allegations of war crimes by a small number of Special Forces commandos.

"This will be difficult and hard news for Australians, I can assure you," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a press conference in Canberra. 

He added: "Our responsibility is to ensure now that we deal with this in a way that accords with our Australian standards of justice that respects the rule of law, that provides the relevant checks and balances through this process, that upholds our values and standards and the respect we have for our defence forces that they have earnt and deserved."

The Australian Government is under increasing pressure to release the Inspector-General’s report in full.

"Given the likely allegations of serious and possibly criminal misconduct, the matters raised in the inquiry must be assessed, investigated and where allegations are substantiated, prosecuted in court," Mr Morrison said.

Australian forces joined the international coalition in Afghanistan in 2001, soon after the 11 September attacks in the United States.

Twenty-six thousand troops served in the country and 41 lost their lives.

In recent years British Special Forces have also faced allegations of misconduct in Afghanistan, but an independent inquiry found no evidence to substantiate them.