US warns war crime allegations could prevent work with Australia's SAS

War crime allegations

Australia’s defense force chief says the U.S. government has warned that allegations of war crimes against Australian soldiers in Afghanistan could prevent U.S. forces from working with Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment.

Gen. Angus Campbell told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he received a letter from the U.S. defense attache in Canberra on March 2021 suggesting the SAS may have been “tainted” by the allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan raised in an Australian investigation report.

Campbell said “one individual” had his “posted position adjusted” following the letter.

The letter warned that the Brereton report, which detailed “credible information” that Australian soldiers had unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians, could trigger a U.S. law that prevents the country’s military working with units linked to “gross violations of human rights.”

“I received a letter from the defense attache of the United States Armed Forces based in Canberra, to me, indicating that the release of the Brereton report and its findings may initiate Leahy Law considerations,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he did not believe he informed the defense minister at the time and had not informed the current minister.

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