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Marines pictured in front of Nazi symbol

Feb. 9, 2012 at 11:02 PM

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Several U.S. Marine snipers in Afghanistan posed for a photo in front of a flag bearing the symbol used by the Nazi SS, the Marine Corps confirmed.

The photograph of the sniper corps team, deployed to Sangin district in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province in 2010, showed up on the Internet, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Marine Corps said Thursday the Marines, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., had been assigned to one of its scout sniper teams, the newspaper said. The photograph showed them in front of a U.S. flag with a flag bearing the Nazi SS symbol below.

A statement by Lt. Col. Stewart Upton said those involved are not currently part of the unit.

"Those involved acknowledged that the symbol could be misinterpreted and is not in keeping with our Marine Corps ethos and values," the Marine Corps said. Marine officials were quoted as saying those involved were not Nazi sympathizers.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has written Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging the photograph be removed from the Internet and those involved in the incident be court-martialed, the Times reported.

Col. John Guthrie of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's office of inspector general said his office became aware of the photograph in November and got confirmation from a commanding officer in Afghanistan that the personnel were part of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, the Times said.

Separately, the Marine Corps is investigating an incident in which a video showed some Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters.

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