White House ‘knew about Russian bounties to kill US troops in 2019’

The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the highly sensitive information.

The intelligence that surfaced in early 2019 indicated Russian operatives had become more aggressive in their desire to contract with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network, a militant group aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan and designated a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 during the Obama administration.

The National Security Council and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence did hold meetings regarding the intelligence. The Pentagon declined to comment and the NSC did not respond to questions about the meetings.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Mr Putin, denied that Russian intelligence officers had offered payments to the Taliban in exchange for targeting US and coalition forces.

The US is investigating whether any Americans died as a result of the Russian bounties. Officials are focused in particular on an April 2019 attack on an American convoy. Three US Marines were killed after a car rigged with explosives detonated near their armoured vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, the largest US military installation in Afghanistan.

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