INTERNATIONAL

Trump denies being briefed on ‘Russian bounties for U.S. soldiers’

U.S. PresidentDonald Trump.APEvan Vucci

U.S. PresidentDonald Trump.APEvan Vucci  

Reports said that Afghan militants were paid to kill troops

U.S. President Donald Trump denied on Sunday that he had been briefed on intelligence that reportedly showed Russia had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In a pair of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump angrily slammed the report by The New York Times as “Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax.” “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,” he wrote.

On Friday, The Times reported that U.S. intelligence had concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill troops of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.

The rewards were purportedly incentives to target U.S. forces as Mr. Trump tries to withdraw troops from the conflict-torn country — one of the militants’ key demands — and end America’s longest war. Citing anonymous officials, The Times said Mr. Trump was briefed on the findings in March, but has not decided how to respond.

White House’s denial

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Saturday issued a denial similar to Mr. Trump’s but left open the possibility that such intelligence existed.

The Taliban has denied the report, reiterating that it was committed to an accord signed with Washington in February that paves the way for withdrawing all foreign forces from Afghanistan by next year.

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

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