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Lawmakers told Russia likely behind suspected directed-energy attacks on US troops: report

The Pentagon has reportedly briefed top lawmakers that Russia likely carried out a series of suspected directed-energy attacks against U.S. troops. 

Politico reported that four former national security officials said that the Department of Defense has been investigating the incidents since last year. At least two groups of lawmakers were briefed on the probes earlier this year, the news outlet added, citing conversations with congressional officials. 

The sources told Politico that the probe includes one fall 2020 incident in Syria in which several U.S. troops developed flu-like symptoms, with lawmakers also briefed on other suspected injuries sustained by troops. 

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It was not clear exactly how many troops were injured in the suspected attacks, nor how severe they were. 

Two former national security officials told Politico that due to rising concerns over the alleged directed-energy attacks by Russia, the Pentagon’s office of special operations and low-intensity conflict began looking into the incidents last year. 

A Pentagon spokesperson told Politico that it was not aware of directed-energy attacks against U.S. troops in Syria and declined to comment on the Department of Defense’s communications with lawmakers.  The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for additional information. 

"I have found no evidence of those attacks in U.S. Central Command," Gen. Frank McKenzie, Central Command commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing on Thursday.

He added that he would like to talk to members "a little bit more about it" in a closed session.

The investigation is reportedly part of a broader look into directed-energy attacks against U.S. officials and also comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia. 

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On Wednesday, U.S. diplomats met with Russian officials to discuss a recent series of sanctions between the countries as President Biden aims to take a tough stance on Moscow. 

The U.S. last week slapped a series of sanctions on Russia over various activities, including its cyber espionage operations, election meddling and hostile actions toward Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday the U.S. has received a formal list of diplomats Russia has expelled in response, though he did not specify who was included in the list.

--Rebecca Kheel contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:34 a.m.