US Marines posed with 'SS insignia' flag

Members of the US Marine Corp have been criticised after a photograph surfaced of them posing with a flag that "adopted the SS insignia".

Ten Marines, who were serving in Afghanistan, were pictured next to a flag bearing "a Nazi-related symbol", as well as a US flag. The photo was said to have been taken in September 2010 but was not brought to the unit's attention until late last year.

A spokesman for the Marines said that the sniper team had been given a warning as a result, although they had not been punished.

"The incident was found not to be racially motivated," he said. "Those involved acknowledged that the symbol could be misinterpreted and is not in keeping with our Marine Corps ethos and values."

Both the Washington-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre called for President Obama to conduct a full investigation into this "complete and total outrage outrage".

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Los Angeles based Wiesenthal Centre, said that the actions of the marines "desecrated the memory of some 200,000 Americans who gave up their lives to defend freedom against that infamous symbol".

"The SS units bore the principal responsibility for carrying out Hitler's Final Solution, which led to the extermination of six million Jews. In addition, members of the SS murdered unarmed American POWs."

He added that it was clear that "younger generations entering the US military need to be better educated about the lessons of the Holocaust."

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, added: "The troops who posed in front of this Nazi SS flag obviously had no idea what it truly symbolised.

"There is a need...for our troops to be sensitised to the meaning of such symbols and the general nature of hate."

Last updated: 5:17pm, February 10 2012