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WASHINGTON – Army investigators believe that the servicemembers seen in an online video taking part in the vicious beating of a sheep are airmen and not soldiers, and have handed the case over to Air Force authorities.

Military officials said the uniforms of the men in the video appear to be that of airmen serving in Afghanistan, and not the standard Army uniform. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has taken over the case now, and is looking into whether any of its personnel were involved.

The video, posted on LiveLeak in November, appears to show at least eight U.S. servicemembers watching another man repeatedly strike a sheep in the head and neck. Some of the servicemembers helped to drag the animal into the room, and none appears to make any effort to stop the attack.

Officials from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alerted the Army about the video in late November, but said they were ignored until this month. The clip got extra media attention after another online video of Marines urinating or the corpses of Taliban fighters drew international outrage.

Military commanders at the Pentagon and in Afghanistan have publicly condemned both videos, and promised investigations into the incidents. Marine Corps officials have identified the four men involved in the urination video, but have not made that information public.

Air Force officials said they have not identified anyone involved with the sheep beating video, but said they will investigate the matter fully. In a statement, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Andy Roake said the actions in the video "are contrary to the high standards we expect of every airman, and run counter to the Air Force's core values."

shanel@stripes.osd.mil

Twitter: @LeoShane

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