Australian military probes rumours of possible war crimes in Afghanistan

An Australian patrolling past a burning car as rival gangs clash in flashpoints around the captial of Dili on May 30, 2006. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Australia's military watchdog has issued a public plea for information regarding rumours of possible war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported in July on an alleged cover-up of the killing of an Afghan boy as well as hundreds of pages of leaked defence force documents relating to the secretive operations of the country's special forces.

On Friday, the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force released a statement saying it was conducting an inquiry "into rumours of possible breaches of the Laws of Armed Conflict" by Australian troops in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

"The inquiry would like anyone who has information regarding possible breaches of the Laws of Armed Conflict by Australian forces in Afghanistan, or rumours of them, to contact the inquiry," the statement read.

Australia is not a member of Nato but is a staunch US ally and has had troops in Afghanistan since 2002.

As recently as May, Australia recommitted to the 16-year-long, seemingly intractable war against the Taleban and other Islamist militants by sending an additional 30 troops to Afghanistan to join the Nato-led training and assistance mission.

That brought Australia's total Afghan deployment to 300 troops.

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