The New York Times reported this week that Russian intelligence assets offered and paid Taliban-linked groups in Afghanistan to kill US and coalition forces. This stems from a truck bombing in April of 2019 that killed three U.S. Marines near Bagram Airfield. Now the families of those Marines want answers.
Despite this information being reported to President Trump in February, The White House attempted to downplay the evidence and stated that the President was never briefed on the situation, citing the New York Times reports to be fake. Additionally, former National Security Advisor John Bolton reportedly briefed Trump on the alleged bounties as early as March 2019, a month prior to the deaths of the three U.S. servicemen.
According to Business Insider, sources within the Taliban’s organization told them that the allegations are factual. The sources stated that these bounties were collected by smaller insurgent groups linked with the Taliban, but are not controlled directly by the larger contingent. The sources went on to state that Iran and Pakistan regularly offer bounties on U.S. and coalition soldiers as well.
Despite being fierce enemies during the Soviet War in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, the Russians and Taliban now appear to be working together towards the common goal of demoralizing and destabilizing Western influence in Afghanistan. Over the past few years, the tide of the war has turned in the Taliban’s favor. The insurgent group has retaken huge swaths of Afghanistan and in February signed a peace agreement with the United States which states that all U.S. troops will be fully withdrawn from the country within fourteen months.
The mothers of two of the Marines killed in the Bagram attack last April have demanded an investigation into the allegations of Russian bounties, however no U.S. government or military officials have reached out to the families on the matter.
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