Britain launches investigation into alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan

The British government has officially launched an investigation into alleged unlawful killings by the country’s Special Air Service (SAS) in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan between 2010 and 2013. 

The inquiry follows the BBC’s report which revealed that a British SAS unit may have unlawfully killed at least 54 Afghans during one six-month tour in Helmand province in suspicious circumstances.

The judge leading the investigation, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, on Wednesday, has called the allegation “extremely serious” and said that restoring the reputation of the military and the country is a priority.

“It is clearly important that anyone who has broken the law is referred to the relevant authorities for investigation. Equally, those who have done nothing wrong should rightly have the cloud of suspicion lifted from them,” the judge said. 

Launching the inquiry on Wednesday, the judge called for anyone with relevant information to come forward.

According to Sky News, the judge also called on Taliban as “relevant party” to provide evidence about the allegations, as well as about the British military’s conduct in Afghanistan.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York, a large number of British troops were mobilized and sent to Afghanistan to participate in NATO’s military operations in the country.

The inquiry will examine whether there was unlawful activity by British military during Deliberate Detention Operations (DDOs) carried out by UK special forces, specifically the SAS, between 2010 and 2013, as well as allegations of cover-ups.

According to the judge, many of the hearings will be held behind closed doors because of the “highly sensitive” nature of the testimony. The inquiry seeks to find out the extent to which illegal practices were kept secret and what lessons can be learned from it.

Abdul Aziz Uzbekzai, an Afghan farmer who suffered the loss of his son and daughter-in-law due to a night raid by British Special Forces in 2012, and whose grandsons were seriously injured during the same operation, told BBC that while the inquiry will not bring back his loved ones, the revelation of truth matters to him. 

“I want British soldiers and other authorities to step forward and disclose the truth. We are still unaware of why we were targeted, and we long to know why,” Abdul Aziz stated.