23:07 GMT01 March 2021
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    Moscow has repeatedly rejected the “Russian bounties” reports as “blatant lies” designed to keep US forces in Afghanistan forever.

    Taliban* political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai has rejected allegations of "Russian bounties" related to US soldiers in Afghanistan as a "complete lie".

    "Nobody should give us rewards for killing Americans, we have been killing them since 2001. We are fighting them without any rewards", Stanikzai said.

    Separately, he added that the administration of new US President Joe Biden reviewing the peace deal with the Taliban does not mean that Washington will abandon the agreement. He warned that if the US fails to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in line with the deal, the Taliban militants will have to defend themselves.

    The statement comes after The New York Times last year quoted unnamed government sources as saying that then-US President Donald Trump was presented with an intelligence report alleging that Moscow may have offered bounties to the Taliban for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

    Members of a breakaway faction of the Taliban militants walk during a gathering, in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. File photo
    © AP Photo / Allauddin Khan
    Members of a breakaway faction of the Taliban militants walk during a gathering, in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. File photo

    At the time, Trump denied ever being briefed on the matter, adding that Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were also not given information about the allegations. The now ex-POTUS also slammed The New York Times for spreading what he described as fake news.

    The claims were also denied both by Moscow and the Taliban, with the Kremlin slamming the accusations as "nonsense" and the militant group dubbing them an attempt to obstruct the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

    The "Russian bounties" report came after the US and the Taliban signed a long-awaited peace agreement in the Qatari capital of Doha in late February, which envisages a timetable for the US to withdraw some of its 13,000 troops from Afghanistan.

    The accord also stipulates the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and US cooperation with the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government and Washington's non-interference in Kabul's internal affairs.

    In return, the Taliban is obliged to take steps to prevent terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda*, from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of the US and its allies.

    US troops have been engaged in military operations in Afghanistan for 19 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but with little success, having failed to either defeat the Taliban or establish peace in the country by any other means.

    Taliban, a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries


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