White House dismisses report claiming Trump had knowledge on Russia-Taliban bounty intelligence

WASHINGTON: The White House has dismissed a New York Times report suggesting that President Donald Trump was briefed on intelligence that allegedly confirmed Moscow had supplied bounties to Taliban-linked militants in return for his or her killing of US troopers in Afghanistan.

The rewards purportedly gave incentives to the guerrillas to focus on US forces, simply as Trump tries to withdraw troops — assembly one of many militants’ key calls for — and finish America’s longest struggle.

It was first reported by The New York Times on Friday. The newspaper, citing nameless officers, mentioned that Trump was briefed on the findings in March, however has not determined learn how to reply.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany mentioned “neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.”

But she added: “This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of The New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”

That left open the likelihood such intelligence does exist.

The Taliban have denied the report, reiterating that it was dedicated to an accord signed with Washington in February that paves the way in which for withdrawing all overseas forces from Afghanistan by subsequent yr.

The militants additionally mentioned home made explosives account for many fatalities amongst US forces.

“The nineteen-year jihad of the Islamic Emirate is not indebted to the beneficence of any intelligence organ or foreign country,” the Taliban mentioned in an announcement issued in Kabul.

The group, extensively believed to have acquired years of assist from Pakistani intelligence, additionally denied earlier US accusations it was given arms by Russia.

“The Islamic Emirate has made use of weapons, facilities and tools … that were already present in Afghanistan or are war spoils frequently seized from the opposition in battles,” it mentioned.

Russia has additionally denounced the report, with its embassy in Washington tweeting that the “baseless and anonymous accusations” within the Times story had “already led to direct threats to the life of employees” at its embassies in Washington and London.

“Stop producing #fakenews that provoke life threats, @nytimes,” it added in a later tweet.

Russia has a tortured historical past in Afghanistan, the place the previous Soviet Union in its last years was slowed down in a devastating battle in opposition to Islamist guerrillas, then backed by Washington.

The New York Times mentioned there have been completely different theories on why Russia would assist Taliban assaults, together with a want to maintain Washington slowed down in struggle.

It mentioned that the Russian unit might also be searching for revenge over the US killing of Russian mercenaries in Syria, the place Moscow backs President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the newspaper, the Taliban operation was led by a unit generally known as the GRU., which has been blamed in quite a few worldwide incidents together with a 2018 chemical weapons assault in Britain that just about killed Russian-born double agent Sergei Skripal

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