13 Jan 2012

US investigates 'deplorable' video of soldiers

6:45 pm on 13 January 2012

The US Defence Secretary has condemned a video that appears to show American Marines urinating on the dead bodies of several Taliban fighters.

The footage, in which four men in military fatigues appear to be urinating on three bodies, has been posted on the internet and broadcast on the Arabic television station Al Jazeera.

Radio New Zealand's correspondent in Washington said it has been reported that the Marines seen on the video are part of the

3rd Battalion 2nd Regiment.

They were in Afghanistan between spring and autumn last year deployed to the Helmand province - the scene of some of the worst fighting with the Taliban.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the behaviour depicted in the film is utterly deplorable and those who had taken part would be held accountable.

The Pentagon said it is checking the authenticity of the video, but there was nothing to indicate that the film is not genuine.

The investigation into the Marines' conduct would also explore who filmed the video and why it is surfacing now.

The incident comes at a time when tentative moves are being made towards peace, ahead of the planned withdrawal of international combat forces by the end of 2014, the BBC reports.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also criticised the video, while the Taliban said the incident is shameful but will not derail attempts at peace talks.