British police commence investigation into claims of Afghan civilian abuse
British soldiers in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AFP/Getty)
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Britain's Royal Military Police on Sunday launched an independent investigation into claims that British troops criminally mistreated civilians in Afghanistan.
The BBC reports more than 100 Afghans accused the British military of abuse over an eight-year period of Operation Herrick, the code-name for UK military operations in the country.
The National Crime Agency and Greater Manchester Police are assisting the RMP in the investigation, titled "Operation Northmoor."
Armed Forces minister Penny Mordaunt reportedly expressed concern over "ludicrous legal claims that undermine [the British military's] ability to do their job."
Mordaunt noted a "large number of compensation claims and judicial reviews" are time-consuming and cost British taxpayers tens of millions of pounds -- as was the case in the five-year Al-Sweady inquiry, which cost taxpayers £31 million and dismissed allegations of torture and murder by British troops in Iraq as "deliberate lies."
The British military, which at the height of coalition efforts had 10,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, withdrew last year as NATO handed the security mission over to Afghan forces.
The announcement of Operation Northmoor comes as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly apologized Sunday for mistakes made in the Iraq War and two weeks after two British military personnel died in a non-hostile helicopter crash in Kabul.