Australian television broadcast on Wednesday footage of what it said was U.S. soldiers burning two dead Taliban fighters as they faced Mecca and using the charred and smoking corpses in a propaganda campaign in southern Afghanistan.
The television report said U.S. soldiers burnt the bodies for hygienic reasons but then a U.S. psychological operations unit broadcast a propaganda message on loudspeakers to Taliban fighters, taunting them to retrieve their dead and fight.
In Washington, the U.S. Defense Department expressed concern over the report and promised that it would be "aggressively investigated."
"These are very serious allegations and, if true, very troublesome," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters.
"It is the policy of the United States, as well as the Defense Department, to treat all remains consistent with the Geneva Convention and with the utmost respect. These allegations will be aggressively investigated and, if proven to be true, the individuals will be held appropriately accountable," Whitman said.
The "Dateline" current affairs programme on the ethnic Special Broadcasting Service said the story was filmed in early October. The footage of the burning corpses was shot by Australian photojournalist Stephen DuPont who was embedded with a U.S. unit.
Dateline said the two Taliban fighters burnt on hills above the village of Gondaz north of Kandahar were killed by the U.S. soldiers the night before.
The footage showed flames licking two charred corpses, their legs and arms outstretched, and a group of five U.S. soldiers standing watching from a rocky ledge.
Footage showed two U.S. soldiers reading two messages from a notebook that they said had earlier been broadcast.
"Attention Taliban you are cowardly dogs," read the first soldier, identified as psyops specialist Sgt. Jim Baker, reports Reuters. I.L.
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