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Five SAS soldiers arrested in UK on suspicion of alleged war crimes in Syria

Five members of the SAS have been arrested by British military police on suspicion of allegedly committing war crimes while on operations in Syria.

The case against the five revolves around the alleged murder of a suspected jihadist in Syria who was killed on operations two years ago. Case files recommending prosecution of murder charges have been sent by service police to the Service Prosecuting Authority, the military equivalent of the CPS.

It is alleged the five used excessive force in the incident, although the soldiers involved are understood to deny this, arguing they believed the dead man posed a legitimate threat, so justifying his killing.

The SAS has been actively deployed in Syria for the past decade, engaged covertly in the fight against Islamic State and supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces, Kurdish allies of the west based in the north-east of the country.

An SAS soldier, Matt Tonroe, was killed by friendly fire in 2018 alongside the US commando Jonathan Dunbar while on a joint operation against IS in Manbij, northern Syria. They were killed when an explosive carried by a colleague detonated.

It is not certain that any of the arrests will result in a prosecution, and war crimes convictions of British soldiers are exceptionally rare. But the arrests come at a time when the activities of the SAS in Afghanistan are separately coming under scrutiny in a public inquiry examining claims that 80 Afghans were summarily killed by the unit.

Read more here.

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