SAS should be named in UK inquiry into alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan: Lawyer


Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) should be directly named in an inquiry relating to Afghanistan over alleged unlawful killings in the country between 2010 and 2013, a lawyer representing victims’ families said Wednesday. 

Richard Hermer’s remarks came as the Independent Inquiry Relating to Afghanistan held the first day of a two-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Referring to a statement by UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace regarding the inquiry as “a semi-concession,” Hermer noted, however, that this was an acknowledgment that UK Special Forces were present in Afghanistan.

In a written statement ahead of the hearing, Wallace said the Defense Ministry continues to “balance the requirement to be as open and transparent as possible” against national security considerations.

He said he “remains steadfast” in this for the protection of those involved and the country’s national security.

“The inquiry is now reaching the stage of substantive hearings, and I can confirm that the allegations relate to the conduct of UK Special Forces,” he noted.

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, the chair of the inquiry, said the ministry’s acknowledgement regarding the presence of the SAS in Afghanistan is “a welcome development.”

“It will hopefully shorten this hearing and simplify the matters which I have to determine,” he added.

The hearing will continue on Thursday.

In March, Haddon-Cave launched an independent probe into allegations of summary killings by British troops in Afghanistan.

He said it is “critical” that those who have violated the law be referred to the authorities “for the reputation of the armed forces and the country,” referring to “extremely serious” allegations of more than 50 summary killings in Afghanistan by SAS soldiers.

Last December, Britain’s Defense Ministry ordered an independent inquiry after a BBC TV documentary reported that soldiers from the SAS had killed dozens of people during raids carried out by one of its squadrons in Helmand in 2010-11.

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