SAS faces war crimes probe over claims its troops executed Taliban

EXCLUSIVE: SAS faces war crimes probe over claims its troops executed scores of Taliban suspects while in custody in Afghanistan

  • Read the full story on the Mail+ now. 

The Special Air Service is facing a war crimes probe over claims its troops executed scores of Taliban suspects while in custody.

Troops have told the Daily Mail they were aware of the practice in 2010 and 2011, which was allegedly covered up by commanders.

Today, there was growing alarm the shoot-to-kill tactics of so-called SAS death squads could no longer be denied.

The Ministry of Defence has always insisted that the suspicious deaths of Afghans captured by the elite troops had been properly investigated.

But more evidence is emerging the SAS obstructed the probe by the Royal Military Police.

Read the full story on the Mail+ now.

Swoop: SAS hold suspects at gunpoint in Afghanistan

Russia is accused of ‘absolute terrorism’ as missiles obliterate civilian targets including a school and residential building in Ukraine’ second-largest city, killing multiple people

By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline 

Russian missiles rained down on Ukraine’s second city overnight, as the local governor accused Putin’s army of ‘absolute terrorism’ for targeting civilians.

A school, a block of flats and a factory were blown up in the city of Kharkiv in three separate attacks launched from Russia between Sunday and Monday morning.

At least three people are dead, regional governor Oleh Syneihubov said, while ‘scores’ more are injured including children aged four and 16.

Syneihubov said the targets were ‘exclusively civilian’ as he bashed Putin’s commanders for what he called ‘absolute terrorism.’

A Russian missile hit a block of flats in Kharkiv overnight, as Ukraine’s second-largest city came under bombardment 

Firefighters help to move debris as they search for survivors of a Russian missile strike that hit Kharkiv in the early hours of Monday

Russia has stepped up its attacks on civilians as its offensive in the east of Ukraine stalls, with Kharkiv’s governor accusing Putin’s generals of ‘absolute terrorism’

Russia has stepped up its attacks on civilians as its offensive in the east has ground to a halt, with rockets hitting an apartment block in Chasiv Yar on Saturday.

At least 19 people have died in the attack on the town – which is mostly inhabited by workers from the nearby factories – though rescue efforts are continuing.

Putin’s men recently took two major cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region – Severodonetsk and Lysychansk – giving them control over the whole of Luhansk.

But since then their attack has stalled, with Kyiv saying it appears commanders are taking an ‘operation pause’ to regroup and rearm before attacking again.

However, that has not stopped Russian artillery units from shelling nearby towns.

The governor of the Luhansk region said on Monday that shelling hit settlements on the administrative border with the Donetsk region.

Kremlin forces carried out five missile strikes and four massive rounds of shelling in the area, Serhiy Haidai said.

The Luhansk and Donetsk regions make up Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland known as Donbas, where separatist rebels have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014.

A second Russian missile strike hit a school in Kharkiv on Sunday – one of three attacks on the city in less than 24 hours

A destroyed classroom in Kharkiv, after the city was targeted by Russian missiles even as Putin’s offensive in the nearby Donbas stalls

A person stands among the rubble of a school in Ukraine’s Kharkiv city after it was near-totally destroyed by a Russian missile strike

A view from the school that was destroyed by a Russian rocket at night in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Russia earlier this month captured the last major stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, the city of Lysychansk.

After the seizure of Lysychansk some analysts predicted Moscow’s troops would take some time to rearm and regroup but Ukrainian officials said there has been no pause in attacks.

The British military assessed that Russian troops were not getting necessary breaks.

The Ministry of Defence wrote on Twitter that online videos suggested at least one tank brigade in the war was ‘mentally and physically exhausted’ as it had been on active combat duty since the start of the war in February.

The MoD said: ‘The lack of scheduled breaks from intense combat conditions is highly likely one of the most damaging of the many personnel issues the Russian (defence ministry) is struggling to rectify amongst the deployed force.’

Once Russia’s ‘operational pause’ has ended, its next targets are likely to be the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk – a short distance from Lysychansk.

Taking those two cities would put Russia in control of a sizable chunk of Donetsk province, which makes up the Donbas together with Luhansk.

Since failing to take Kyiv, Putin claims control of the Donbas is now his sole war aim.

Local residents clean up the rubbles and debris after a Russian missile strike in the south of Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv was hit three times in 24 hours between Sunday and Monday morning, including this hit on a cilvian neighbourhood

Local residents dismantle a house damaged by a Russian rocket in the south of Kharkiv

But his army will also have to commit men to defend portions of Ukraine’s south, as Kyiv says a major counter-attack is about to begin.

Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian defence minister, says President Zelensky has ordered his generals to come up with a plan for recapturing the south of the country – much of which was seized by Putin’s men early in the war.

Ukraine withdrew many of its forces from southern areas shortly before Russia invaded to focus on keeping the capital of Kyiv intact.

But now, after Russia failed to take the city and withdrew, Zelensky appears to be making a return to the south in greater force his priority.

Reznikov told The Times that Ukraine’s armed forces is now 1million-strong, as he lobbied western leaders for more weapons to get the job done.

Kherson, a key strategic city that spans the Dnipro River and is the only regional capital to fall to Putin so-far, is the early target.

Other areas currently occupied by Russia that are likely to be high on Ukraine’s hit-list are Enerhodar – which houses the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the port city of Berdyansk, and the city of Melitopol.

Ukraine’s long-term ambition will certainly be the re-capture of Crimea – annexed by Russia in 2014 – from Putin’s men, but the peninsula is essentially one big military base and attacking it would be extremely challenging. 

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