UK veterans minister believes SAS carried out unlawful killing of Afghan civilians

UK veterans minister believes SAS carried out unlawful killing of Afghan civilians
UK veterans minister believes SAS carried out unlawful killing of Afghan civilians

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - UK veterans minister believes SAS carried out unlawful killing of Afghan civilians

LONDON: The British minister for veterans admitted during a public inquiry on Tuesday that he believes members of the UK Special Air Service (SAS) were involved in dozens of unlawful killings of Afghan civilians from 2010 to 2013, the Guardian reported.

Former army officer Johnny Mercer expressed his initial skepticism about claims that elite British forces had killed Afghans in their sleep or during night raids, yet admitted he found no evidence to refute these allegations.

In his testimony, Mercer highlighted his personal connection to the SAS, mentioning “friends who were killed in operations, I have friends who were never the same person again after Afghanistan.”

He continued: “I don’t want to believe it but at every stage I have tried to find something to disprove these allegations but I have been unable to.”

Mercer’s evidence covered his experiences from his last tour in Afghanistan in 2010 up until his tenure as minister for veterans affairs, first between 2019 and 2021 and then from July of the current year, the Guardian reported.

He recounted receiving two warnings in 2017 about the seriousness of the allegations while he was a member of Parliament and while he was actively campaigning against a series of largely unfounded claims of misconduct by British soldiers in Iraq.

One was from a senior officer who warned him about the scale of the official investigation into SAS summary killings.

The second was a fellow former soldier who had said he had been asked to carry a “dropped weapon” to fabricate evidence to justify the summary execution of Afghan civilians during night operations in Helmand province.

However, Mercer refused to reveal the names of those who had warned him, either in public or in writing, the Guardian reported.

“This has been a prolonged saga for me over many years and my faith in the system to interrogate these issues is not where it needs to be for that type of thing,” Mercer said.

Inquiry counsel Oliver Glasgow told him that failing to provide the names would “considerably hamper” the investigation.

Mercer replied: “The one thing you can hold on to is your integrity, and I will be doing that with these individuals.”

He added: “The simple reality at this stage is I’m not prepared to burn them — not when, in my judgment, you are already speaking to people who have far greater knowledge of what was going on.”uk

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