A means to counter the infamous images of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, each picture will be accompanied by a signed personal message – either decrying the US-led invasion or extending sympathies to besieged Iraqi civilians.

"With deep shame, we apologise for the suffering our country has brought to the people of Iraq," says a banner in a photo showing 11 people in Vancouver, Washington.

Three elderly people in Minneapolis declare: "All our children long for a new day".

Among those sending pictures is Michael Berg, whose son Nicholas was executed after being seized in Iraq.

Apologies

"I am sorry and ashamed for the tremendous loss my government has caused the Iraqi people," Michael tells the Iraqis, betraying no grudge for his personal loss.

Iraq's torture scandal caused
outrage in the US and globally

"I truly feel what the United States government has done to the once-sovereign nation of Iraq is atrocious and shameful," he said.

An initiative of the peace group Fellowship of Reconciliation, the photos and messages are aimed at convincing Iraqis that most US citizens were shocked by the photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and many regret a war being waged in their name.

A veteran's group, however, says the initiative undercuts US soldiers.

John Newberry, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said: "This type of thing only serves to undermine the effort and the sacrifice of our military in Iraq. These people on the face of it seem to have a political agenda. It implies that what we are attempting to do in Iraq is shameful".

The White House refused to comment on the initiative.