WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The death of several US troops in Afghanistan was attributed to the Russian bounties to Afghanistan forces, according to the intelligence data acquired by the Washington Post on Sunday.
- According to the White House, President Donald Trump was never briefed about the alleged Russian program as he belied the intelligence in his tweet.
- Since 2015, about 15 to 30 US troops are being killed in Afghanistan every year. This year, eight American soldiers have died in service.
Intelligence reports obtained by the Washington Post on Sunday suggest that the death of several US troops based in Afghanistan were attributed to the Russian bounties to Afghanistan militants.
Based on the report, the evidence kept during interrogations of enemy combatants was associated to the alleged Russian program, which was linked to multiple incidents where US forces were killed. Russia denied that the program ever existed.
The number of targeted troops as well as the actual death tally associated with the accusation concerning Russia are still not known yet.
“The veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council told the Post.
President Donald Trump was never told about the program’s presence, according to the White House. However, when the Crime Intelligence Agency (CIA) confirmed the information, the White House held a top meeting to act in response, the Post reported on Sunday.
In his Sunday tweet, Trump said: “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.”
Given the lack of evidence obtained by the National Security Council, one person familiar with the intelligence told the Post that Trump may had not been briefed.
“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.”
Every year since 2015, around 15 to 30 US troops died in Afghanistan. So far, eight have been killed in 2020 according to iCasualties.org.
In February, the Trump administration and the Taliban signed a treaty authorizing the withdrawal of around 3,400 troops from the country and the remaining 8,600 will continue its anti-terrorism missions. The Taliban agreed to forfeit attacks based in Afghanistan against American forces in return.
Source: The Hill