The U.S. Marine Corps has also launched an investigation into a video that purports to show American Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban members.
In footage posted on YouTube and seen by the websiteÂ TMZÂ four men in combat fatigues are seen laughing and joking as they apparently relieve themselves over three corpses that lie at their feet, reports The Telegraph.
In the 40-second film, the soldiers are laughing, and one of the Marines jokes, “Have a great day buddy.” A second man is heard saying, “Golden, like a shower.”
According to The Huff Post, the men in the video are not identified. A caption on YouTube says the men are part of the “Scout Sniper Team 4 with 3rd battalion 2nd marines out of camp lejeune.”
A senior Marine Corps officialÂ told CNNÂ that the men are wearing helmets typical for the Marine corps sniper teams and that their rifles are 30-caliber sniper rifles.
A fifth person films the scene with a hand-held camera from a few feet away, shifting their position at one point to get a better view of one of the dead men’s faces.
The video has sparked anger from Afghans, with top negotiator from President Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council Arsala Rahmani, saying it will have a ‘very, very bad impact on peace efforts.’
He added: ‘Looking at such action, the Taliban can easily recruit young people and tell them that their country has been attacked by Christians and Jews and they must defend it.’
The video also has been brought to the attention of the Marine Corps headquarters.
“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,”Â ABC quotes an official statement.Â “This matter will be fully investigated.”
“Regardless of the circumstances or who is in the video, this is egregious, disgusting behavior,” Department of Defense spokesman Capt. John KirbyÂ told CNN. “It’s hideous. It turned my stomach.”
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby said the video was deeply troubling: ‘Whoever it is, and whatever the circumstances, which we know is under investigation, it is egregious behaviour.’
The Council on Islamic-American Relations, a prominent Muslim civil rights and advocacy group based in Washington, also quickly condemned the video.
The group wrote in a letter faxed to Defence Secretary Leon Panetta: ‘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.
‘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.’
If the footage is verified it is likely to cause outrage throughout the Islamic world and fuel calls from within Afghanistan for an immediateÂ AmericanÂ withdrawal.
But the video was also reminiscent of fake pictures published by the Daily Mirror the same year, purportedly showing British troops abusing Iraqi detainees. The images turned out to be crude fakes and forced the resignation of Piers Morgan, the paper’s editor.
Under the Geneva Conventions, the international treaty that lays out the rules of war, bodies of enemy soldiers must be “honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged.”