The military said on Monday that the allegations related to an incident on 7 September in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked while waiting to be moved to a detention facility.

The statement said the soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment were charged on Saturday with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice but gave no other details.

"All allegations of abuse are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly, and appropriate action is taken based on the findings of the investigation," the statement said.

US soldier Lynndie England, 22, was sentenced by a US military court on 27 September to three years' jail after being convicted of abuse, including being photographed pointing to the genitals of a naked Iraqi detainee in Abu Ghraib prison.

England was the last of a group of US soldiers to be convicted of abuse at Abu Ghraib, including Charles Graner, her former boyfriend, who is serving 10 years.

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The prisoner abuse scandal provoked global outrage and deepened Iraqi resentment of occupying US troops.

US forces are holding 13,885 prisoners at several detention centres in Iraq, according to figures from the military last week, including 5074 at the vast Abu Ghraib complex in western Baghdad.

Iraqi families, human rights groups and some Iraqi government ministers, including the justice minister, complain that too many Iraqis are being wrongfully detained for too long without due process.