President Trump has signaled his intentions to pull US troops from Syria, but the war there continues. A suicide bomber killed 16 people there Wednesday. Four of the dead were American soldiers. Another three were injured in the daylight attack. The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack on the US-led coalition forces occurred in the northern Syrian city of Manbij. The ISIS attacker was caught on security cameras in the moments before the explosion, which may help coalition forces trace the origins of the attack.
“An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces for the Manbij Military Council with them,” one witness said.
The death of the American soldiers was confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The identity of the soldiers has not yet been released.
“The President has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria. For any specific questions please contact the Department of Defense,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
“We are aware of the reports. We are working to get information and CENTCOM is going to release something when it’s appropriate,” an unnamed US military official said.
US forces secured the area after the explosion. Video from the scene showed armored vehicles and helicopters patrolling the area.
The attack comes on the heels of President Trump’s declaration of a full US troop withdrawal from Syria. The announcement reportedly caused chaos at the Department of Defense, and led to the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Despite the opposition of his key military advisers, President Trump is moving forward with his plans. “We have won against ISIS. We have beaten them and we have beaten them badly,” he said in December.
“Opponents of the US pullout warned that Manbij and other towns near the border with Turkey might come under attack by the Turkish military,” the NY Post writes, “which has threatened to invade to clear them of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia, or YPG.”