WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for an apparent suicide bombing in northern Syria on Wednesday, according to the US military.
- Two US soldiers, a Department of Defense civilian employee and a defense contractor were killed while three other soldiers were injured, the US Central Command said.
- In December, President Donald Trump declared that the US would start pulling out all US troops from Syria because IS had been “defeated”.
Two US soldiers have been killed in an apparent suicide bombing in the Kurdish-held town of Manbij, Syria, according to the US military. The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the bombing when a militant had detonated an explosive vest next to a US patrol.
The US Central Command confirmed the death of four Americans. Another three US soldiers were reported wounded.
“Two US service members, one Department of Defense (DoD) civilian and one contractor supporting DoD were killed and three service members were injured while conducting a local engagement in Manbij,” the command said in a statement.
The US forces went to Manbij to support Kurdish and Arab forces as IS fighters have been driven out of most of eastern Syria.
A large fireball engulfing several people who were standing on the street outside was captured by a CCTV footage from a nearby shop.
President Donald Trump has announced last month that the US would begin pulling out all its 2,000 troops from Syria, claiming that IS had been “defeated”.
Officials opposing the withdrawal confirmed that IS now controlled only 1% of the territory they overran five years ago, but pointed out that the terrorist group had not disappeared entirely.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has previously criticized Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, but on Wednesday said that the move could encourage IS attacks and “set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting”.
Even the vice president reiterated that the troops’ withdrawal plan would continue but condemned the attack in Syria.
“We have crushed the [IS] caliphate and devastated its capabilities. As we begin to bring our troops home… we will never allow the remnants of [IS] to re-establish their evil and murderous caliphate,” VP Mike Pence said.
There were still about 14,000 IS militants in Syria and even more in neighboring Iraq, according to a recent US report.
BBC reports that Syrian Kurds also fear that Manbij and other towns they control near the border with Turkey might come under attack by the Turkish military, which wants to clear them of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.