Over 40 photographs depicting U.S. Marines burning the corpses of Iraqi insurgents have surfaced, prompting the military to conduct a formal investigation of those involved.
The graphic photos, which were acquired and published by TMZ, show Marines pouring gasoline over dead bodies and lighting them fire, as well as the aftermath of their actions. Thus far, neither the source nor the legitimacy of the photographs has been confirmed. If the depicted events are proven to actually have happened, however, the Marines involved would have violated U.S. military code.
The photographs were allegedly taken in Fallujah in 2004, but the Huffington Post reports that there is no statute of limitations on the case. If the Marines depicted in the images are found guilty of the alleged crimes, they could face prosecution.
If the photographs are, in fact, real, they could cause the U.S. military an entirely new set of issues in the Middle East. Cremation is strictly forbidden by Islamic custom, and the burning of the bodies could signify a lack of respect for the local civilians. Reports of similar activity occurred in 2005.
In order to curb any potential backlash on the home front, Navy commander and Pentagon spokesman Bill Speaks issued a statement urging civilians not to judge the military as a whole for the actions depicted.
“We are aware of photos appearing on TMZ.com that depict individuals in US marine uniforms burning what appear to be human remains. 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,” said Speaks, according to The Guardian.
WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS BELOW