The families of 17 fallen US military members have written to Donald Trump accusing him of "cheapening the sacrifice made by those we lost".
They were reacting to the Republican presidential candidate's insults which were aimed at the family of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq. The Gold Star families called Mr Trump's -statements about the parents of Captain Humayun Khan "repugnant and personally offensive".
"We feel we must speak out and demand you apologise to the Khans, to all Gold Star families, and to all Americans for your offensive, and frankly anti-American, comments," they wrote.
Cpt Khan's father Khizr addressed the Democratic National Convention last week, criticising Mr Trump's proposed Muslim ban and questioning whether he had read the US Constitution. The property mogul responded by saying Mr Khan had "no right" to make such a statement and speculating that his wife Ghazala, who stood beside him during the speech, was not allowed to speak because of her religion - to which Mrs Khan has replied that it was grief that kept her from speaking.
The Veterans of Foreign War, a group made up of 1.7 million military -veterans, also condemned Mr Trump's -statements yesterday.
"The VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression," Brian Duffy, the group's national commander said.
John McCain, Arizona senator and a former prisoner of war, joined the growing chorus of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans criticising his statements, saying he could "not emphasise enough how deeply I disagree". He went on: "While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered licence to defame those who are the best among us," he said. Mr McCain said Cpt Khan's name "will live forever in American -memory", and personally thanked his parents for immigrating to America from Pakistan.
Cpt Khan was killed in 2004 by a car bomb. He ran toward the suspicious vehicle after ordering his men back, and was killed when it detonated.
Mr Trump has insisted that his comments came only after he was "viciously attacked", and has rebuffed calls to apologise. He said: "Mr Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same." Mike Pence, Mr Trump's running mate, said: "Donald Trump and I believe that -Captain Humayun Khan is an -American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American," he stated.
Mr Khan told MSNBC that he and his wife felt it was their "moral duty" to speak out against Mr Trump, and it would have been a "burden on our souls" if they failed to do so.
A poll released yesterday (Monday) showed Hillary Clinton leading Mr Trump 47 per cent to 41 per cent.