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The Marine Corps is promising to investigate a disturbing video that appears to show Marines in Afghanistan urinating on the bloody corpses of alleged Taliban fighters, officials at the Pentagon said Wednesday.
The 40-second clip, titled "Marines peeing on taliban," has spread to numerous websites, attracting thousands of views and hundreds of comments — some of them criticizing the men in the video and condemning the Marine Corps at large. A caption beneath the video identifies the men as members of a scout sniper team assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. The individual who posted it also remarked "I thought Marines were suppose [sic] to do the right thing when no one is watching."
Marine officials are working to confirm the men's unit and their identities, said Capt. Kendra Hardesty, a Marine spokeswoman at the Pentagon. Once that information is verified, their unit will assign an officer to conduct the investigation, she said.
In the video, four men wearing what appear to be Marine combat uniforms are seen standing around three dead bodies, quietly talking and joking as the camera rolls. They are equipped with chest rigs, grenades, body armor and some specialized gear. One is holding a precision rifle.
Toward the end of the video, one of the men looks down at a corpse and says "Have a good day, buddy." Another zips his trousers and remarks "Golden like a shower."
It is unknown who filmed the video, but it appears it was first uploaded to the video-sharing website YouTube by a user identified as semperfiLoneVoice. That account was created Tuesday and includes only this video.
Semper Fi is the Marine Corps' motto. A contraction of the Latin phrase "semper fidelis," it translates in English to "always faithful." Marine Corps Times emailed semperfiLoneVoice seeking comment but did not receive a response.
In a statement, Marine officials at the Pentagon said the service is working to verify the video's origin and authenticity.
"The actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps," the statement reads. "This matter will be fully investigated."
On Marine Corps Times' Facebook page, the story immediately received dozens of responses from readers. Many expressed support for the men appearing in the video. One reader posted a comment reading: "Taliban corpse? And you people are upset over it? … I'd do the same and all my grunt brothers would too."
The unit identified in the caption beneath the video — 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines — returned to Camp Lejenue in October from a standard seven-month deployment to Afghanistan's Helmand province. Its Marines saw intense action in and around Musa Qala, a violent district located in northern Helmand.
Reached Tuesday evening, a spokesman for the battalion's parent command, II Marine Expeditionary Force, declined to discuss the matter, saying that despite widespread media reports linking the individuals in the video to 3/2, there has been no verification yet these men were assigned to any unit within II MEF.
"That's still unconfirmed," said Capt. Scott Sasser. "That was just on some report that came up online. That's all we have right now."
Marine officials at the Pentagon learned of the video Wednesday after receiving a media query from The Sun, a British tabloid, Hardesty said.
A spokesman for the Defense Department, Navy Capt. John Kirby, called the video "egregious, disgusting behavior," telling CNN "it turned my stomach."