4 Americans among those killed in Syria attack claimed by ISIS
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion that killed four Americans and at least 10 other people in the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday.
The American deaths included two US service members, a defense contractor and a Department of Defense civilian, the US Central Command said in a statement. Three other US service members were injured in the attack.
“Initial reports indicate an explosion caused the casualties, and the incident is under investigation,” the statement said.
The American civilian was an intelligence expert who was with the troops hoping to collect information about security and adversaries in the area, according to three US officials.
Eight civilians and two fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in the blast, a senior commander from the Manbij military council told CNN.
Prior to Wednesday’s attack, only two US service members had been killed in action in Syria since the start of the campaign in 2014.
The US-led coalition confirmed earlier Wednesday that US service members were killed in the attack, but did not provide details regarding the number of casualties at the time and said the service members were “conducting a routine patrol” at the time of the explosion.
“U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time,” a tweet from Operation Inherent Resolve’s spokesperson said.
The names of the two US service members will be withheld for 24 hours until next of kin is notified in accordance with DOD policy, according to CENTCOM’s statement.
The ISIS-affiliated Amaq agency said the attack in the northern city of Manbij was carried out by a suicide bomber with an explosive vest.
“An explosion in Manbij’s busy market street, initial reports of casualties,” spokesman of the Manbij military council Shervan Darwish wrote on Twitter.
ISIS didn’t provide any proof it was responsible for the attack.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation and issued a statement on the attack later Wednesday.
“Our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country,” it said.
Vice President Mike Pence has also been briefed, according to a tweet from his press secretary.
However, Pence made no mention of the attack or the deaths of US service members while making remarks at the Global Chiefs of Mission conference at the US State Department Wednesday, claiming “The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.”
A White House official said the administration had not publicly confirmed the deaths of US service members when Pence made his remarks even though the coalition against ISIS tweeted a message confirming there had been US deaths nearly an hour before his speech.
Pence released his own statement after making those remarks saying, “We will never allow the remnants of ISIS to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate — not now, not ever. “
“President Trump and I condemn the terrorist attack in Syria that claimed American lives and our hearts are with the loved ones of the fallen. We honor their memory and we will never forget their service and sacrifice,” he said.
However, he also indicated that the White House still intends to withdraw US troops from Syria.
“Thanks to the courage of our Armed Forces, we have crushed the ISIS caliphate and devastated its capabilities. As we begin to bring our troops home, the American people can be assured, for the sake of our soldiers, their families, and our nation, we will never allow the remnants of ISIS to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate — not now, not ever,” the statement added.
The attack comes less than a month after Trump announced that US troops would withdraw from Syria. In making his announcement, Trump declared in a