SYDNEY (Reuters) - An independent inquiry has found credible information that Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for combat.
The following are key dates in Australia’s near two-decade long military presence in Afghanistan.
September 2001 - Following the multiple attacks in New York and Washington on Sep 11, 2001, then U.S. President George Bush declares a “war on terror”.
October 2001 - Australia joins the United States-led coalition in Afghanistan. Australian special forces are deployed and are involved in the establishment of the coalition’s first base, southwest of Kandahar.
December 2002 - Australia’s initial commitment to the conflict in Afghanistan ends. About 200 Australian special forces are withdrawn.
July 2005 - Australia says it has agreed to a request by Afghanistan to deploy more troops. About 200 personnel are deployed.
April 2009 - Australia’s deployment to Afghanistan has gradually increased. By mid-2009, Australia’s presence peaks at just over 1,500 personnel.
August 2010 - Australia assumes command of the coalition’s reconstruction team.
November 2012 - The Australian military begins to withdraw. Control of the bases is passed to the Afghan military.
December 2013 - Then Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the last Australian troops have Afghanistan, though about 400 military personnel remain to train and support the Afghan army.
Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry
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