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Intelligence suggests Russian bounties led to deaths of several US troops in Afghanistan: report

Intelligence suggests Russian bounties led to deaths of several US troops in Afghanistan: report thumbnail

Russian bounties on coalition forces in Afghanistan are thought to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence findings reported on by The Washington Post on Sunday.

Evidence obtained during interrogations of enemy combatants linked the recently reported program — which Russia has denied ever existed — to multiple incidents in which U.S. forces were killed, the Post reported. It was unclear how many service members were targeted or how many deaths were specifically linked to the alleged Russian policy.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council told the Post that “the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.” The White House has claimed that President TrumpDonald John TrumpIntelligence suggests Russian bounties led to deaths of several US troops in Afghanistan: report Obama called Philonise Floyd before brother’s memorial service: NYT President Trump tries to cover his tracks by attacking the rule of law MORE was never briefed on the program’s existence. The information did lead to a high-level meeting in the White House over how to respond after it was confirmed by the CIA, the Post reported Sunday.

“Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” Trump tweeted.

Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020

One person familiar with the intelligence defended the idea that Trump had not been briefed in an interview with the Post, citing a lack of options determined by the National Security Council.

“I don’t think that anybody withheld anything and screwed up by not getting to the president on time.” the official said, adding that until “you were absolutely sure of the intelligence and the NSC had drawn up policy options, you weren’t going to walk into the Oval Office.”

Trump expanded on that assertion Sunday evening in a tweet suggesting that the entire story was a hoax to make him and GOP members of Congress look bad ahead of November’s elections, adding that his officials did not find the report to be credible.

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!” he tweeted.

Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!! https://t.co/cowOmP7T1S

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2020

Between 15 and 30 U.S. service members have died every year in Afghanistan since 2015, while eight have been killed so far in 2020, according to iCasualties.org. In February, the Trump administration and the Taliban signed an agreement mandating the withdrawal of about 3,400 troops from the country, while around 8,600 will remain in the country to continue anti-terrorism efforts. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to not allow attacks against U.S. forces to be based in Afghanistan.

Updated at 10:55 p.m.

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