Two dozen boys have been found starved and neglected at a government-run orphanage for special needs children in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The children were discovered last week by a US military advisory team that was out on patrol with Iraqi soldiers.
The emaciated boys, some near death, were left naked and covered in their own excrement on concrete floors, images broadcast by CBS News showed.
The US soldiers found fully stacked kitchen shelves and new clothes nearby.
The boys had been kept in the shocking conditions for more than a month despite the orphanage having been staffed, the troops said.
The 24 orphans were first spotted during a daytime patrol in central Baghdad by the US 82nd Airborne Division.
"They saw multiple bodies laying on the floor of the facility," Staff Sgt Mitchell Gibson told CBS News.
"They thought they were all dead, so they threw a basketball [to] try and get some attention," he added.
"And actually one of the kids lifted up their head, tilted it over and just looked and then went back down."
Another member of the patrol, Lt Stephen Duperre, said he had found the discovery devastating.
"The kids were tied up, naked, covered in their own waste, faeces"
Lt Duperre said the soldiers found three members of staff cooking for themselves when they entered the orphanage.
Inside was a kitchen full of food and a storeroom stocked with piles of brand-new clothing.
The soldiers believed it was being sold to local markets instead of giving it to the disabled children.
The orphanage's caretaker, who had a well-kept office, and two women employees have since disappeared.
However, two security guards have been arrested on the orders of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
The boys have since been transferred to another orphanage in the city and have begun to recover.