The US has been quick to apologise after the publication of new photos showing American troops posing with the maimed bodies of suspected Afghan insurgents.
The Los Angeles Times went ahead with the publication despite pleas from the US Department of Defense amid concerns the images would trigger retaliation against NATO troops in Afghanistan.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was questioned about the pictures at a NATO meeting in Brussels.
“That behaviour that was depicted in those photos absolutely violates both our regulations and more importantly our core values. This is not who we are and it is certainly not who we represent when it comes to the great majority of men and women in uniform who are serving there,” said Panetta.
One of the images published by the LA Times showed soldiers holding the severed legs of an apparent insurgent. In another, they showed a dead bomber’s hand, with the middle finger raised.
The photos, which were taken in 2010, are likely to ignite calls for NATO troops to leave Afghanistan before a 2014 deadline.
The publication comes after several offensive incidents that have provoked Afghan anger including a video of US soldiers urinating on dead Afghan insurgents and the burning of the Koran at a NATO airbase, which led to weeks of riots.