On suspicion of alleged war crimes in Syria, five SAS soldiers were detained in the UK.

British military police have detained five SAS troops on suspicion of war crimes they may have committed while conducting operations in Syria.

Though defense sources said that allegations of the arrests, which had been making the rounds in military circles for some time, were true, the Ministry of Defense stated that it would not comment directly on the inquiry.

“We hold our personnel to the highest standards, and any allegations of wrongdoing are taken seriously,” a representative for the Ministry of Defense stated. Any criminal accusations are reported to the service police for investigation when necessary.

The five are facing charges related to the purported killing of a suspected extremist in Syria who perished during operations two years prior. The Service Prosecuting Authority, the military counterpart of the CPS, has received case files from service police suggesting the prosecution of murder charges.

The soldiers involved are known to dispute the allegations that the five used excessive force in the encounter, claiming that the dead man’s death was justified because they represented a threat.

For the past ten years, the SAS has been actively stationed in Syria, where it has been secretly fighting the Islamic State and assisting the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are western allies that are situated in the northeast of the nation.

During a joint operation against IS in Manbij, northern Syria, in 2018, US commando Jonathan Dunbar and SAS soldier Matt Tonroe were both killed by friendly fire. When a colleague’s bomb exploded, they were killed.

British soldiers being found guilty of war crimes is an extremely unusual occurrence, thus it is not guaranteed that any of the arrests will lead to prosecution. However, the arrests coincide with a public investigation into allegations that the SAS summarily killed 80 Afghans, which is also casting doubt on the SAS’s operations in that country.

The accused troops’ identities are unknown to the general public, and if court martial procedures take place, it’s likely that their anonymity will be maintained. No SAS personnel have been named in the public investigation into Afghanistan.

The SAS is a Hereford-based unit that normally operates in complete secret. It is prepared to carry out dangerous missions behind enemy lines and in areas where the UK does not publicly recognize a military presence.

Since the 1980s, government ministers and officials have refrained from commenting on its operations, even informally. The director of special forces, its highest ranking official, answers only to the prime minister and the defense secretary.

According to Amnesty International, claims of war crimes must to be thoroughly looked into. Kristyan Benedict, a crisis response manager with the human rights organization, stated that “it’s vital that all members of the UK’s armed forces are fully answerable before the law as a matter of principle.”

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