United States intelligence agencies found that Iran paid Taliban fighters bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, CNN reported Monday afternoon.
According to CNN a Pentagon briefing document, reviewed by news organization, stated bounties were paid by a foreign government to Haqqani network, which is led by the second highest-ranking Taliban leader.
The bounties were paid for the December attack on Bagram Air Base, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including four US personnel.
CNN stated the foreign government was not named, but sources familiar with the intelligence confirmed that the information referred to Iran.
According to the news organization, the US killed a key Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, in Iraq less than a month after the Bagram attack but after weighing options a decision was taken not to further counter Iran’s support for militant groups so as not to jeopardize the peace process with the Taliban.
This comes after reports emerged in June of Russia offering the Taliban bounties to do the same.
However, Russia has consistently rejected the claims.
CNN noted that the Bagram attack had been well-coordinated and sophisticated and that according to documents seen by the news outlet, the nature of the attack most likely “met the criteria for reimbursement.”
CNN stated that “while US intelligence officials acknowledge that the Haqqani Network would not necessarily require payment in exchange for targeting American troops, the internal Pentagon document reviewed by CNN notes that the funding linked to the December 11 attack at Bagram ‘probably incentivizes future high-profile attacks on US and Coalition forces’.”
The news outlet also stated that US officials from a number of different agencies had been tasked in the months following the Bagram attack to investigate Iran’s relationship with Haqqani.
CNN stated that despite acknowledging that the relationship “poses a significant threat to US interests,” National Security Council officials eventually recommended in late March that the US should not take specific steps toward addressing the Iran-Haqqani link as officials concluded that any response would likely have a negative impact on the peace efforts.
Although the White House failed to take any action against Iran, CNN stated that President Donald Trump has taken a “strong stance toward Tehran for its dealings with the Taliban.”
But, the news organization stated that the issue of foreign governments paying bounties to the Taliban to attack US and coalition forces in Afghanistan remains a serious concern for officials.
They stated that a joint intelligence assessment produced by the CIA, NSA and NCTC last month noted that Iran paid Haqqani after it conducted at least six attacks against US and coalition interests last year.
The Iranian government did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Kazakhs told to leave streets to avoid ‘anti-terrorist actions’
A statement broadcast on Kazakh TV on Friday told Almaty residents to stay inside during the security operation in the city.
Video obtained by Reuters showed the broadcast statement, which said: “Respectable Inhabitants of Almaty! A counter-terrorist operation to destroy bandit groups is going on in Almaty. The main goal is to stop terrorists and safeguard the security of the city. If anti-terrorist activity takes place where you live, it is recommended you do not go near by windows or get out in the street. Hide in a safe place, do not leave children or the elderly without supervision.”
Almaty, Kazakhstan’s main city, has seen days of violence, with demonstrations that began as a response to a fuel price hike swelling into a broad movement against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state.
Security forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city on Friday after days of violence, and the Russian-backed president said he had ordered his troops to shoot to kill to put down a countrywide uprising.
A day after Moscow sent paratroopers to help crush the insurrection, police were patrolling the debris-strewn streets of Almaty, although some gunfire could still be heard, Reuters reported.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said foreign-trained terrorists were responsible for the unrest, and the interior ministry said 26 “armed criminals” had been “liquidated”, while 18 police and members of the national guard had been killed, figures that appeared not to have been updated since Thursday. State television reported more than 3,700 arrests.
Japan pledges $109 million to Afghanistan and its neighbors to ‘address crisis’
The Japanese government has pledged to donate a total of approximately $109 million to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries “to address the humanitarian crisis” in the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said that Japan will provide assistance to directly address humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and its neighboring countries including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
“The Government of Japan will provide assistance to directly address humanitarian needs in areas such as healthcare, food, and nutrition, protection, water, and sanitation, as well as livelihood improvement to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries,” the statement read.
According to the statement the assistance would be provided through 16 international organizations to improve the humanitarian crisis.
“The Government of Japan will continue to provide support and stand with the people of Afghanistan, and play an active role to realize stability in the region,” the statement added.
According to the statement, $100 million will be allocated for Afghanistan; $4.01 million to Iran; $3.72 million to Pakistan; $0.99 million to Tajikistan; and $0.43 million to Uzbekistan.
Unvaccinated COVID patients flood French ICUs as cases surge
Pressure on French hospitals has been steadily mounting over the past few weeks as France battles a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, which has been filling up ICUs with unvaccinated patients.
Of the 20 COVID patients of the Mulhouse hospital ICU, only three are vaccinated while the youngest is aged 19 years old, head of the Emile Muller hospital ICU, doctor Khaldoun Kuteifan, told Reuters on Thursday.
“The Mulhouse hospital ICU is currently at full capacity as patients have been coming in for the past 20 days. Seventy percent of the ICU patients are positive COVID cases.”
France had recorded 60,866 new cases over the past 24 hours on Thursday night, while 78.1% of French people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to the French Health Ministry website.
“The waves keep coming and hitting us, and the more it goes on, the more tired we get,” nurse Aurelie Multhaupt told Reuters.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the government expects to see around 4,000 patients in intensive care with COVID-19 by the Christmas holidays, Reuters reported.
Attal said new decisions on the reinforcement of border rules, the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and travel recommendations for the holidays could be announced in the coming days.
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