The US Marine Corps said on Wednesday it would investigate a video showing what appears to be American forces in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters.
The video, which was posted on YouTube and other websites, shows four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on the bodies of three dead Taliban.
One of them jokes: “Have a nice day, buddy.” Another makes a lewd joke about a shower.
“While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps,” the Marines said in a statement.
“This matter will be fully investigated.”
Two US military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the video appeared to be authentic at first look, however Reuters could not independently verify the video or its source.
A Muslim civil rights group in the United States condemned the alleged desecration of corpses in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
“Any guilty parties must be punished to the full extent allowed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and by relevant American laws,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to media organisations including Reuters.
The video could aggravate anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan after a decade of a war that seen other cases of abuse. The US military has been prosecuting soldiers from the Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade on charges of murdering unarmed Afghan civilians while deployed in Kandahar province, in 2010.
The Marine video release comes at a sensitive moment, with Washington trying to promote Afghan reconciliation as US troops gradually withdraw from the country.
US Ambassador Marc Grossman is due to visit Afghanistan and Qatar next week for talks with the Afghan and Qatar governments.
At the Pentagon, Captain John Kirby said the defense department was “deeply troubled” by the video.
“Whoever it is, and whatever the circumstances – which we know is under investigation – it is egregious behaviour and unacceptable for a member of the military,” Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
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