Photographs obtained and posted on the entertainment and gossip website TMZ reportedly show U.S. Marines burning the bodies of Iraqi opponents in the aftermath of a military battle in the city of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
If deemed authentic, the grisly photos would be the latest evidence of U.S. soldiers treating dead enemy soldiers in a manner contrary to their claims of noble performance on the battlefield.
In response to the emergence of the images, the U.S. military has launched an internal investigation.
“We are aware of photos appearing on TMZ.com that depict individuals in U.S. Marine uniforms burning what appear to be human remains,” Navy Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. “The actions depicted in these photos are not what we expect from our service members, nor do they represent the honorable and professional service of the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
As the website itself reports:
The United States military is conducting a formal investigation into American soldiers burning the dead bodies of what appear to be Iraqi insurgents.
TMZ obtained 41 pictures that we're told were shot in Fallujah in 2004. Two pictures show a Marine appearing to pour gasoline or some other flammable on the remains of what officials believe are 2 insurgents. Two other photos show the bodies on fire. You then see charred remains.
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Another photo shows a Marine crouched down next to a dead body and mugging for the camera.
Still another pic shows a Marine rifling through the pocket of the pants on a corpse.
We have not included all of the photos. Many are just too gruesome. There are well over a dozen bodies in the pics and some are covered with flies and one is being eaten by a dog.
The "gruesome" images from Fallujah come as the city, battered by U.S. forces during the first year of the war instigated by President George W. Bush, is once again in the news as internal violence has pitched Sunni militias angered at the Iraqi government of President Nouri al-Maliki against the Iraqi Army. As the Washington Post reports:
Fallujah, a city in Anbar province in western Iraq, has been the scene of three-way fighting in recent weeks pitting a rejuvenated force affiliated with al-Qaeda against local tribes and Iraqi government forces. The al-Qaeda-linked militants claimed to have captured Fallujah on Jan. 3, raising their flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago.
Fallujah was where Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war, ultimately taking control of the city. Nearly 100 U.S. troops were killed there in November 2004 in the military’s deadliest battle since the Vietnam War. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar province trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq.
For Iraqis in Fallujah, many of whom remember a series of brutal assaults by U.S. forces with scant regard for civilian life, the legacy of those battles remain in the form of residual impacts from depleted uranium munitions used during the battles and destroyed infrastructure that has yet to be repaired.