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Bodies of US Soldiers Indicate Possible Execution, say US officials - 2003-03-23

Defense officials say the bodies of what may be American soldiers shown in a controversial Arab television broadcast have wounds indicating they were probably executed.

Defense officials who have seen the al-Jazeera videotape say several of the corpses appear to have head wounds - a sign, they fear, that the victims were executed and not killed in combat.

One senior Pentagon official calls broadcast of the tape an outrage and a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Officials are also describing as a violation the display in the broadcast of what appear to be live American soldiers held by the Iraqis as prisoners of war. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, under the Conventions, they are not supposed to be photographed, embarrassed or humiliated.

The Pentagon has acknowledged a small number of U.S. soldiers are missing and unaccounted for in southern Iraq. But they have withheld formal confirmation that any Americans are being held captive, pending notification of their families.