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White House wants investigation into U.S. soldiers posing with Afghan corpses

(Xinhua)

14:52, April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Xinhua)-- U.S. President Barack Obama sought a probe of the conduct depicted in newly released photos taken in 2010 showing several U.S. soldiers posing with corpses of Afghan militants, the White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday.

Carney briefed reporters aboard Air Force One while Obama was heading to visit Ohio. The spokesman said that Obama believed the conduct depicted in those photographs released by newspaper Los Angeles Times "reprehensible" and needs to be investigated.

"...it will be investigated and those responsible will be held accountable," said Carney. He stressed the soldiers' conduct "does not in any way" follow the standards of the U.S. military.

The White House also echoed the earlier comments from the Pentagon that "the decision to publish these photographs two years after the incident" was disappointing.

The White House's comments followed criticisms by several military and civilian officials earlier the day.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta released a statement in Brussels to "strongly reject" the picture-taking conduct. He said that an investigation "is underway" that could lead to disciplinary measures.

"Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system," he said.

Marine Corps General John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, also issued a statement in Kabul, strongly condemning the actions depicted in the photos.

The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday published a story and a photo showing a U.S. soldier with a dead insurgent's hand on his shoulder. The U.S. newspaper later posted another photo on its website showing several other U.S. soldiers holding legs upright of another dead militant's mangled corpse.

According to the Los Angeles Times story, a soldier who had served in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bragg, N.C., anonymously provided 18 such photographs taken over several months because he believed they represented a breakdown in leadership and discipline that compromised troop safety.

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