Suicide blast in Manbij, 4 US soldiers killed

Aamaq, a news site affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS), earlier issued a statement saying an attacker with a suicide vest had targeted a patrol of the US-led coalition operating in Manbij.
Wednesday 16/01/2019
An image grab taken from a video published by Hawar News Agency (ANHA) on January 16, 2019, shows the aftermath of a suicide attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. (AFP)
An image grab taken from a video published by Hawar News Agency (ANHA) on January 16, 2019, shows the aftermath of a suicide attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. (AFP)

BEIRUT - A blast struck near U.S.-led coalition forces on Wednesday in Syria’s northern city of Manbij, and a war monitor said 16 people had been killed.

A US official said four US soldiers were killed and three wounded in the blast.

Aamaq, a news site affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS), earlier issued a statement saying an attacker with a suicide vest had targeted a patrol of the US-led coalition operating in Manbij.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria after concluding ISIS had been defeated there.

The announcement rattled allies in the region and top US officials, including Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who quit.

The coalition, in a tweet, said its forces had conducted “a routine patrol in Syria” on Wednesday.

Two witnesses described Wednesday’s blast to Reuters. “An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces for the Manbij Military Council with them,” one said.

The Manbij Military Council militia has controlled the town since US-backed Kurdish-led forces took it from Islamic State in 2016. It is located near areas held by Russian-backed Syrian government forces and by anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkey.

One of the witnesses said there was a “heavy” presence of military aircraft over Manbij following the blast, which took place near a vegetable market.

(With Reuters)