U.S. Secretary Of Defense Leon Panetta has issued an apology for photos that appear to show soldiers posing with dead Afghans, Reuters reports. Panetta called the behavior "foolish" and "unacceptable."
The Los Angeles Times released the pictures on Wednesday, which were given to the paper by an American soldier "on the condition of anonymity."
More from Panetta via Reuters:
"This is war, and I know war is ugly, and is violent. And I know young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions," Panetta told a news conference during a meeting of NATO allies in Brussels. "I am not excusing that."
He added: "My apology is on behalf of the Department of Defense and the U.S. government ... Again, that behaviour is unacceptable."
Panetta said he regretted the decision of the Los Angeles Times to publish some of the photos, which he said might trigger retaliatory violence against foreign soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.
"Neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people, or our relationship with the Afghan people. Those kinds of photos are used by (the) enemy to incite violence, and lives have been lost as a result," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Panetta stressed that point -- the hazard of further attacks against security forces.
"The danger is that this material could be used by the enemy to incite violence against U.S. and Afghan service members in Afghanistan," he said. "U.S. forces in the country are taking security measures to guard against it."