x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Nato condemns video of US marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters

The Nato-led security force in Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has condemned the behaviour of military personnel seen in a video apparently urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters.

WASHINGTON // The Nato-led security force in Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has condemned the behaviour of military personnel seen in a video apparently urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters.

The coaltition said the personnel are no longer serving there.

"This disrespectful act is inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces," the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a statement calling the actions in the video "inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards" expected of coalition forces.

The ISAF said the actions "appear to have been conducted by a small group of US individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan." The statement did not identify the personnel or explain why the ISAF thought they had left the country.

Mr Karzai strongly condemned the video "desecrating" the corpses.

"The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans," said a statement from the president's office.

"This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms.

"We expressly ask the US government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime."

The Marine Corps said it is investigating the YouTube video but has not yet verified its origin or authenticity. The case has being referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Navy's worldwide law enforcement organisation, said NCIS spokesman Ed Buice.

The Council on Islamic-American Relations, a prominent Muslim civil rights and advocacy group based in Washington, quickly condemned the video.

"We condemn this apparent desecration of the dead as a violation of our nation's military regulations and of international laws of war prohibiting such disgusting and immoral actions," the group wrote in a letter faxed to Leon Panetta, the defense secretary.

"If verified as authentic, the video shows behaviour that is totally unbecoming of American military personnel and that could ultimately endanger other soldiers and civilians," the letter said.

Marine Corps headquarters at the Pentagon said, "The actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps. This matter will be fully investigated."

A Marine Corps spokesman, Lt Col Stewart Upton, added, "Allegations of Marines not doing the right thing in regard to dead Taliban insurgents are very serious and, if proven, represent a failure to adhere to the high standards expected of American military personnel."

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt John Kirby, said the video is deeply troubling.

"Whoever it is, and whatever the circumstances - which we know is under investigation - it is egregious behaviour," Capt Kirby said.

It is unclear who shot the video and who posted it online.