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UK minister says he 'cannot disprove' claims Afghans were unlawfully killed by SAS

The UK’s minister for veterans, Johnny Mercer, has effectively admitted in front of a public inquiry that he believed members of the SAS had engaged in dozens of unlawful killings of Afghan civilians between 2010 and 2013.

Asked by the chair of the inquiry to clarify that he was describing "allegations of straight murder" by the SAS, Mr Mercer replied, "Yes."

The Independent Inquiry relating to Afghanistan, launched in the wake of reporting by the BBC and other media outlets, is investigating whether British special forces killed civilians and unarmed people on night raids in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2013.

The Triples - from Afghan units CF 333 and ATF 444 - accompanied the SAS on many of the raids being scrutinised.

Referring to conversations with several former members of the Triples, Mr Mercer told the inquiry that the allegations presented to him were "horrific" and had "confirmed my worst fears".

He said they included accounts of the SAS executing detainees, including children, who had already been restrained and posed no threat. He added there was "no reason why a person under control should lose their life".

The BBC revealed in 2022 that one SAS squadron had killed at least 54 people, including detainees and children, in suspicious circumstances in one six-month tour of Afghanistan.

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