us marines
The photos published by TMZ are believed to be from Fallujah in 2004 Reuters

The US Marines corps has launched an investigation after photographs published on a celebrity gossip website were said to depict troops burning corpses of Iraqi insurgents.

The graphic photos, published on TMZ, have not been verified but appear to show marines pouring petrol over the bodies of dead Iraqis and setting them alight.

The website claimed to have obtained 41 photos taken in Fallujah in 2004. TMZ said it ha published only nine of the photos because many of them were "just too gruesome".

The published pictures show marines posing with the charred remains of corpses and bodies on fire.

TMZ said it had passed the photographs on to the Pentagon.

Col Steve Warren of the Defense Department told TMZ: "The actions that are depicted in these photos are not in any way representative of the honourable, professional service of the two-and-a-half million service members who went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade."

Navy commander Bill Speaks added: "The Marine Corps is investigating the veracity of these photos, circumstances involved, and if possible, the identities of the service members involved. The findings from this investigation will determine whether we are able to move forward with any investigation into possible wrongdoing."