Dutton apologises to cleared SAS troops

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Defence Minister Peter Dutton has apologised to any special forces troops wrongly accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

A group of 13 soldiers has been told there is insufficient evidence for their cases to be referred to investigators after being told last year to prove why they shouldn't be sacked.

Mr Dutton said he wanted to send a clear message when he took over the portfolio that he would have soldiers' backs.

"If people have been wrongly accused and they've now been cleared of that then I do apologise for what they've been through, what their families have been through," he told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.

The Brereton inquiry found credible evidence Australian troops murdered 39 Afghans and uncovered allegations of torture and other war crimes.

A special investigator was established to examine the claims.

"If people have got criminal charges to answer then that's a matter for the courts but for the rest, we move on from that chapter now," Mr Dutton said.

The defence minister said the allegations had reverberated across the Australian Defence Force and the Special Air Service.

"I know that it's had a big impact on the partners, the families of their mates that weren't there or haven't been accused of anything," he said.

"They've obviously got a tight-knit group where the wives are friends. They obviously feel the pain of what that particular family is going through."

Mr Dutton in April overturned Chief of Defence Angus Campbell's decision to strip meritorious unit citations from more than 3000 special forces soldiers.

One of the 13 soldiers, who was told there was not enough evidence to refer the allegations to investigators, is in Afghanistan assisting with rescue operations.

The minister said he wanted the focus to be on the work of the SAS in Kabul, given there were anxious families awaiting the troops' return.

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