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.
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