Sydney: Australia condemned on Thursday "contemptible" photos of US soldiers posing with the mangled remains of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and said it did not reflect the values of coalition troops.

The photos, which date back to 2010 but were published by the LA Times on Wednesday, add to a string of recent scandals that have ignited anti-Western feeling and complicated NATO-US efforts to build towards a 2014 withdrawal.

"They're terrible, they're contemptible. They deserve nothing but condemnation," Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told from Brussels, where NATO defence and foreign ministers were meeting.

"They don't reflect the values and the virtues of the United States or NATO or the international security assistance force for what we are trying to do in Afghanistan.

"There is no point gilding the lily, there is no point pretending it is not a setback."

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said those responsible would be punished.

NATO has a 130,000-strong military force fighting the Islamist Taliban but Afghan forces are gradually taking over control of security in the country.

Earlier this week, Australia announced it would be bringing most of its soldiers home in 2013, a year earlier than expected.