An Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist attack in the Syrian city of Manbij has killed four American and wounded three. The dead included two service members, one Department of Defence (DoD) civilian, and a DoD contractor. In addition, 13 civilians were killed and 18 wounded.
The attack took place early in the afternoon. The Americans were patrolling the area alongside French troops. As they passed a restaurant in a crowded street, a huge explosion spread mayhem.
“An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces from the Manbij Military Council with them,” said a bystander to Reuters.
Coalition helicopters landed on a nearby soccer field and evacuated the wounded Americans.
A spokesperson from Operation Inherent-Resolve, the U.S.-led international coalition that is fighting ISIS, said in a tweet that “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.”
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for the Middle East, West Asia, and parts of North Africa, also released a statement, “Two U.S. service members, one Department of Defense (DoD) civilian and one contractor supporting DoD were killed and three service members were injured while conducting a local engagement in Manbij.”
It is still unclear how President Trump will respond. The attack comes only weeks after he declared victory against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the complete withdrawal of American troops operating inside Syria (numbering about 2,000).
“The president has been fully briefed, and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Despite President Trump’s mission-accomplished speech, intelligence reports indicate that there are still thousands of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. Citing as many as 14,000 extant terrorists, the reports anticipate a shift from conventional warfare, which until now is how the conflict has been fought, to an insurgency.
In the years since the U.S.-led intervention to defeat ISIS, Master Sergeants Joshua Wheeler and Jonathan Dunbar, both Delta Force operators, were killed in two separate incidents. In 2015, Master Sergeant Wheeler was killed in action while storming an ISIS prison facility alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq. In 2018, Master Sergeant Dunbar was killed alongside a British Special Air Service (SAS) trooper by a roadside improvised explosive device (IED). Last week, two SAS soldiers were also wounded while clearing a city of ISIS fighters. Wednesday’s attack demonstrates that ISIS is far from defeated and that it can still cause considerable damage.
Located in northern Syria, Manbij is controlled by forces opposed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Initially occupied by ISIS, the city was reclaimed by Kurdish forces in 2016.
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