Coalition says American forces killed in ISIS attack on Syria's Manbij


The death toll in an attack on US and coalition troops in the northern Syrian town of Manbij is rising, with the bombing raising questions about what happens once USA forces pull out for good.

A USA defense official told Fox News last Friday that the US -led military coalition in Syria started the process of removing troops from the region, but wouldn't confirm further details for security purposes.

No confirmation of the attack or possible American casualties has been made by US military sources.

The Pentagon released a statement on Twitter that said: 'U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today.

At least 16 people, including four US soldiers, were killed in an attack on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Manbij, US officials and a war monitor in the region said.

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said President Trump had been "fully briefed" on the incident.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports, and the US-led coalition was not immediately available for comment about the attack or casualties among coalition forces.

The US-backed Manbij Military Council, which is linked the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), has controlled Manbij since they seized the city from ISIS in 2016. The man was allegedly targeting USA troops, who were conducting a routine patrol.

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Ankara has welcomed Washington's planned withdrawal of some 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria but the future of US-backed Kurdish fighters has poisoned relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a presidential ally who was critical of Trump's original announcement to withdraw United States troops from Syria, said Wednesday he is concerned the Trump's statements on Syria may have encouraged the enemy. Eyewitnesses in Manbij told Sputnik that the explosion took place near a cafe where the leaders of the council and guests from a delegation, "whose identity has not yet been established", had gathered.

"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".

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the State Department several hours after the US casualty reports, did not mention the bombing or the deaths, but instead hailed Trump's leadership in combatting the militants in Syria.

Trump said in a video he tweeted out last month: 'We have won against ISIS.

There were several reported casualties in the city a militia controlling the city and a UK-based monitoring group said.

He said the American President won't halt the withdrawal because it would mean ISIS wins. Early reports said at least two soldiers were killed.