WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US intelligence concluded that the Russian army offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan for killing US troops and other coalition forces, the New York Times reported Friday.
Citing informed officials on the matter, the Times said the United States determined months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe had offered rewards for successful attacks last year.
Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have raised reward money, the newspaper said.
The White House, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence rejected Reuters’ requests to comment on the Times report.
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the intelligence finding, the Times said. He said the White House has yet to authorize any steps against Russia in response to the rewards.
Of the 20 Americans killed in combat in 2019, the Times said, it was unclear which deaths were under suspicion.
After almost 20 years of fighting the Taliban, the United States is looking for a way to get out of Afghanistan and achieve peace between the US-backed government and the militant group, which controls swaths of the country.
On February 29, the United States and the Taliban reached an agreement that required the gradual withdrawal of US troops.
The strength of US troops in Afghanistan dropped to almost 8,600, well ahead of a schedule agreed with the Taliban, in part due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, NATO and US officials said in late May. .
Report by Eric Beech; Additional reports from Arshad Mohammed, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason; Editing by Daniel Wallis