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ISIS Bombing in Syria’s Manbij Leaves 16 Dead, Including US Soldiers

ISIS Bombing in Syria’s Manbij Leaves 16 Dead, Including US Soldiers

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 12:45
In this April 4, 2018, file photo, a Manbij Military Council member passes a US position near the front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, Syria. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Sixteen people were killed, including two American soldiers, in an ISIS-claimed suicide bombing in the northern city of Manbij near the Turkish border.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine Syrian civilians and five US-backed fighters were among those killed in the attack on a restaurant in the city.

The attack caused the United States to suffer its worst combat losses in the war-torn country since 2014 as it prepares to withdraw.

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS said "US service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria" Wednesday, without giving a death toll.

The Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources in Syria, said it was the first such suicide attack in the city in 10 months.

Speaking at a gathering in Washington of US ambassadors, Vice President Mike Pence did not comment on the attack and just said that the United States would ensure the defeat of ISIS.

"We'll stay in the region and we'll stay in the fight to ensure that ISIS does not rear its ugly head again," he said.

The bombing comes as Syrian Kurds present in areas around Manbij reject any Turkish presence in a planned "safe zone" to include Kurdish-held areas along the frontier.

It also comes after US President Donald Trump's shock announcement last month that he was ordering a full troop withdrawal from Syria because the terrorists had been "largely defeated".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he did not believe the attack would impact the US decision to withdraw from Syria “because I saw honorable Trump’s determination on this point”.

The US has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria, raising concerns over the fate of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that it has supported and that has been vital in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a 34-year insurgency in Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly threatened to wage an offensive against the fighters in Syria.

The threats have strained already frail relations with the US, which has been a main backer of Kurdish forces.

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