Two service members, a civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a military contractor were killed in a suicide bombing in Syria. Twelve others were killed in the attack, which was orchestrated by an extremist group in the Islamic State.
“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 military maintains that the service members were conducting a “routine patrol.”
According to the New York Times, the bombing targeted an American military convoy in the northern city of Manbij. The convoy had stopped by the Palace of the Princes restaurant to eat, as troops on patrol in that region have done often.
Dressed in an explosive vest, the bomber entered the restaurant and killed 16 people.
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Eight civilians and two soldiers from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were also killed in the blast, a senior commander from the Manbij military council told CNN.
Coming shortly after President Donald Trump announced a massive withdraw of American military presence in the region, the attack has raised even more criticism of the president’s move. This was the sixth attack by the Islamic State upon coalition agents in less than a month, perhaps indicating that the enemy has gained momentum from news of the U.S. troop withdraw.
“I saw this in Iraq. And I’m now seeing it in Syria,” Senator Lindsey Graham said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 16.
Graham said that Trump’s planned withdraw had “set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting.”
The White House maintains that ISIS is under control, and even dismantled in some areas.
“Thanks to the courage of our armed forces, we have crushed the ISIS caliphate and devastated its capabilities,” vice President Mike Pence said. “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 re-establish their evil and murderous caliphate — not now, not ever.”
President Trump offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the attack on 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,” he said in a statement.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.