(MEE) — A deadly suicide attack, claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), has hit US-led coalition troops in a restaurant in north Syria’s Manbij.
Four US servicemen were killed and three more wounded, the Reuters news agency reported a US official as saying. Fourteen others died in the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group.
Amaq, IS’s propaganda arm, said the attacker targeted the patrol using an explosive vest.
Witnesses and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia that controls the town near the Turkish border appeared to confirm this, saying the blast hit a restaurant with coalition troops inside.
The US-led coalition acknowledged reports of the attack, saying in a statement: “US 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.”
Eyewitnesses told Middle East Eye that the attack took place at the al-Omara restaurant, which is a favourite among locals, especially at lunchtime.
Khaled Awsah, who lives in the Kurdish-controlled area, told MEE that dozens had been wounded in the attack and hospitalised, including his brother, who was waiting for him at the restaurant.
“There were SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] and American fighters having lunch as well, like the locals, who come every day to eat in that restaurant, which is famous and located in the middle of the city.”
“I saw someone wearing an explosive vest who blew himself up in the restaurant,” he added.
Another Manbij resident, electronics shop-owner Salama al-Bahje, said: “Dozens were wounded and killed. I could see pieces of bodies everywhere. It has been a while since an attack like this happened.”
Air lifts for the wounded
Manbij residents told MEE that an Amercian helicopter flew to the site from a nearby US military base to pick up wounded US troops. Civilian casualites were taken to a nearby hospital, they said.
Video footage given to MEE showed a helicopter landing in a school playground. MEE could not verify whether this was an American helicopter.
Pictures and videos circulated online by activists in Manbij showed body parts scattered across the area where the attack took place.
US troops, who were deployed in Syria to assist the Kurdish-led SDF in its battles against IS, have been patrolling Manbij for months following an agreement with Turkey, which sees the Kurdish presence in the historically Arab-majority town as problematic.
However, last month US President Donald Trump announced the surprise decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, at once claiming that the battle against IS had been won and Turkey would defeat the militant group’s remnants.
The SDF, backed by US air strikes, is currently battling IS militants in the last areas the group controls in eastern Deir Ezzor province.
Some 10,000 Syrians have been displaced by the fighting, according to the United Nations, with fears that IS militants and their families may be attempting to blend in with fleeing civilians.
This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.
Since you’re here…
…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us