Shocking images depicting US soldiers burning the bodies of what appear to be Iraqi insurgents have emerged today.
The photographs, reportedly taken in Fallujah in 2004, have sparked a Marine Corps investigation, but many of the 41 shots are too grisly to publish.
Two pictures show a Marine pouring what looks like gasoline on the remains of enemy soldiers and another two images appear to show the remains go up in flames. Two more capture the charred bodies.
The photos were obtained by TMZ, who turned them over to the Pentagon last week, triggering the probe.
According to the website, US Central Command, which is in charge of military operations in the Middle East, reviewed the photos to determine if they had been brought to their attention before.
They determined they had not.
Other pictures show a Marine squatting next to a skull to pose for the camera. His US military uniform is clear. He is grinning and pointing his gun at the skeleton.
Another picture shows a soldier rifling through the pockets of the scant remains of an Iraqi soldier.
TMZ said it has withheld the bulk of the images - including one showing a body being eaten by a dog - because they are just too graphic.
It reported seeing well over a dozen dead insurgents in total in the heinous pictures, in various states, including some covered in flies.
The Department of Defense said the pictures appear to show US soldiers in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The code outlines that it is a crime to mishandle remains.
There is no statute of limitations on the crime, which means the Marines can be prosecuted even if they're no longer active in the military. If convicted, the soldiers could go to prison.
"We are aware of photos appearing on TMZ.com that depict individuals in US Marine uniforms burning what appear to be human remains," Commander Bill Speaks, from the Secretary of Defense's office, told MailOnline Wednesday.
"The Marine Corps is currently investigating the veracity of these photos, circumstances involved, and if possible, the identities of the service members involved.
"The findings from this investigation will determine whether we are able to move forward with any investigation into possible wrongdoing."
Some have suggested the Marines may have been burning the remains as a sanitary measure.
However, Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steven Warren said the proper handling of war remains is set by US military regulation and that the actions depicted in the photos "are not what we expect from our service members."
Commander Speaks said the acts depicted in the images are not representative of the millions of hardworking men and women who have served in the Middle East.
"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," he told MailOnline.
In 2005 report, U.S. soldiers in Gumbad, Afghanistan were investigated for burning the bodies of two enemy fighters.
The men argued they set alight the corpses for hygienic reasons, after local citizens had not retrieved the bodies after 24 hours.
A report concluded that the action indicated poor judgement but was not a war crime.
It stated: "Based on the criminal investigation, there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation of desecration or any violation of the Law of War. However, there was evidence of poor decision-making and judgment, poor reporting and lack of knowledge and respect for local Afghan customs and tradition."
- Daily Mail