Acknowledge war crimes in Afghanistan, the Tories told

CAMPAIGNERS demanded today that the government come clean about British forces’ atrocities in Afghanistan after Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer spoke of “horrific accounts” of the killing of children and other civilians.

Mr Mercer advised the public inquiry looking at the issue that Afghan special forces had told him of murderous abuses by members of the Special Air Service (SAS) during the British occupation of the country.

In response to a question, Mr Mercer made it clear that he was talking about “allegations of straight murder.”

A BBC investigation has found evidence that the SAS has blocked the relocation to Britain of the Afghan soldiers making the allegations — leaving them at the mercy of the Taliban — lest they tell all to the inquiry.

A Stop the War Coalition spokesman said today: “These are shocking revelations exposing the brutal reality of Britain’s failed occupation of Afghanistan.

“Those responsible for the murder of civilians must be held to full account for their actions and the military should tell what they know.

“And never again should politicians embark on such a disastrous war of intervention and occupation, which has left Afghanistan back where it started.”

Mr Mercer, who did three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a soldier, said the evidence he had seen “confirmed my worst fears” about the actions of the SAS between 2010 and 2013 when they were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the occupation forces.

The allegations include that the SAS executed detainees, including children, who posed no threat at all. The BBC revealed that one SAS squadron alone had been responsible for at least 54 suspicious deaths in a six-month period.

There was “no reason why a person under control should lose their life,” Mr Mercer said, describing the SAS members concerned as “criminals” if the charges were true.

“I have absolutely nothing in common with these individuals and I totally reject their behaviour,” he added.

Afghan special forces refused to accompany the SAS on missions due to their conduct, he told the inquiry, adding that there should have been cause for concern if “Afghan special forces are refusing to go out the door with you.”

Previous investigations by military police have led to no charges against any soldiers.

Evidence from the Afghan troops could prove highly damaging, leading to fears that they are being blocked from coming to Britain despite the risks they are left exposed to in their own country.

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