US service members killed by Islamic State suicide bomber in northern Syria

Note: This article was updated to reflect CENTCOM’s confirmation that four Americans perished in Manbij.

Four Americans, including two US service members, were killed in an explosion in northern Syria today. The blast was caused by an Islamic State suicide bomber, as the so-called caliphate quickly claimed responsibility for a bombing that targeted a patrol in the area. Video footage being shared online purportedly shows the blast outside of a restaurant in Manbij, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) has confirmed that four Americans perished. In addition to the two service members, a civilian working for the Department of Defense and one DoD contractor were casualties of the bombing. Three American service members were also wounded. A number of others, including Syrian civilians, were killed or injured as well.

The Islamic State has issued a statement claiming the bombing. The message can be seen above. The group has identified the bomber as Abu Yasin al-Shami, saying he conducted a “martyrdom operation” that was directed at a patrol of the “Crusader” alliance and “PKK apostates.”

The Islamic State consistently refers to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as the PKK, or Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a US-designated terrorist organization. Indeed, the Kurdish YPG (or People’s Defense Units), a large contingent within the SDF, is affiliated with the PKK.

According to the Islamic State, nine people were killed or wounded in Abu Yasin’s bombing and “Crusader helicopters rushed” to the scene to evacuate their personnel.

The attack comes at a time when President Trump is looking to withdraw American forces from Syria, claiming that the Islamic State has been “defeated.” While it is true that the group has lost nearly all of the territory once under its control, the jihadists maintain a significant footprint in Syria, neighboring Iraq and elsewhere.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Bhutphart says:

    All these wasted lives, in the end for nothing

  • James says:

    As they say in the Navy: “Loose lips sink ships”. We have a leader that teleprompts his consternation and fears and then goes against all sound, rational advice in doing so. This is what happens.

    I hope I’m wrong in this prediction, but be expecting the same (or similar) to happen in Afghanistan. And, you’d better believe, the type of thugs that carried out this attack will show up on the streets of America if we let them, and we allow him to continue his ‘cut and run’ strategy of prematurely pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.

    It is time for US to ask some really hard questions. What led him make this rash and untimely decision? Things like this don’t just happen out of the blue. Is he being black-mailed (by possibly that closet-case Islamist Erdogan and/or puKKKin)?

    We know that the closet-case lib (libertarian) Sen Rand Paul has been holding secret consultations with members of the puKKKin gov’t. This matter needs to be fully investigated.

    This man I believe may ultimately prove to be a national security risk both to himself and our Nation as a whole. It is high time to invoke (or at least seriously consider invoking) the 25th Amendment. His mental state and fitness needs to be at least seriously called into question.

    At least my tentative conclusion is that he is either being black-mailed and/or he is mentally unfit to be President.

  • Al says:

    Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal,

    Pardon me sir, I diametrically disapprove the word choices that occasionally appear in your articles. In a past comment I expressed my concerns that you, or your translator, labeled “martyrs” the terrorists our people killed. I mentioned that I recalled clear instructions from our leaders not to use the terrorists language that glorify their deaths.
    Now, in this article, you described “perished” the Americans and servicemen who died as a result of terrorists act.

    Do you know how demeaning the terrorists’ original language, and that when you repeat it is their trophy to use and brag!

    What is the logic behind your poor word choice, and where are going with it?
    I hope you intend to be careful next article.

  • James says:

    You see folks, even though he won’t admit it openly, Sen Rand Paul is one of those people that actually believe that the mere presence of US troops (in what he calls ‘Muslim lands’) actually creates (or draws) ISIS and/or AQ. In other words, though thinly veiled, he is actually blaming the US military for the creation of terrorism.

    When he talks about (what he calls) ‘Muslim lands’, does that include Israel? Someone should ask him that question. I wonder if you’d ever get an honest response from him on it.
    You’d better believe that when push comes to shove, if they’d ‘cut and run’ from the defense of the Kurds, they’ll ‘cut and run’ from the defense of Israel too.

    Bill has written extensively here on LWJ on this fallacy. When you prematurely pull US troops from these regions, all you do is create a vacuum that is eventually filled; usually by ISIS and/or AQ, or other terrorist entities.

    You’d better believe that at this very moment, both ISIS and AQ are looking for ways to get into the United States. Thanks to the ‘cut and run’ strategy of this President and his following the advice of pusillanimous politicians like Sen Rand Paul , get ready America, because they will succeed.

  • Arjuna says:

    I know people will say Manbij is “peaceful” but why was the restaurant not secured better for a known meeting with ISIS’ two enemies, the Kurds and the Americans? The poor soldiers were in a clump outside the door. People looked decidedly non-tactical. Syria is not Seattle. Damn it. That fiend used a kid as a decoy too, war is hell. Rest in peace. Don’t let five deaths drive a strategic decision to stay or go.


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