Four US soldiers killed in blast in Syria's Manbij

Four US soldiers killed in blast in Syria's Manbij

BEIRUT

Four U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded in a blast on Jan. 16 in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, a U.S. official said.

An ISIL-affiliated web site, Amaq, said an attacker with an explosive vest had struck a foreign military patrol in a suicide attack.

Reuters could not independently verify a report by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that at least 16 people had been killed in the attack. 

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria after concluding ISIL had been defeated there. The announcement rattled allies in the region and top U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis who quit.

Two witnesses described the blast to Reuters. The U.S.-backed, YPG-led Manbij Military Council that controls the town said there was preliminary information that people had been injured in the attack.

Manbij has been held by U.S.-backed fighters allied to the YPG since they took it from ISIL in 2016.

It is located near areas held by Russian-backed Syrian government forces and by anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkey, which lists the YPG as a terrorist organization.

One of the witnesses said there was a “heavy” presence of military aircraft over Manbij following the blast, which took place near a vegetable market.

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