Marines pose with flag resembling SS logo

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.  -- The Marine Corps said Thursday it is investigating a photo of Camp Pendleton-based  scout sniper team in Afghanistan in front of a flag with a logo resembling a notorious Nazi symbol.

The picture was taken in September 2010 in Sangin province, Afghanistan.  It shows a flag containing what appear to be the letters "SS" in the shape of jagged lightning bolts.  The lightning bolt symbol resembles that used by Nazi SS units in World War II known as the Schutzstaffel.

 However, Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton, Calif., said the investigation found that the SS symbol was meant to identify the Marines as 'scout snipers,' not Nazis.  He said while the use of the SS symbol was unacceptable, there was no intent on the part of the Marines to identify themselves with a Nazi organization.

 The Marines in the photograph are no longer with the unit they were assigned to at the time.

 The Schutzstaffel were the police and military force of the Nazi Party.  SS units were held responsible for many war crimes and played an integral role in the extermination of millions of Jews as well as Catholics, gypsies and other people classed as undesirables.

 The SS was declared to be a criminal organization at the Nuremberg war crime trials.

 This is the second time this year the Marine Corps has had to do damage control for actions of its troops.

 The Marine Corps is currently investigating a group of Marines recorded on video urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters.  Those Marines were based at Camp Lejune, N.C.