Beirut, The Islamic State terror organisation on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in a Syrian city under US-backed Kurdish control that killed at least three American troops, according to US officials quoted in a report from the Dow Jones Newswires supplied to EFE.
Local media and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that allied fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces and a number of civilians were also among the dead and injured in the attack in the northeastern city of Manbij, which underscored the threat the IS still poses as the Trump administration prepares to withdraw troops from the country.
The White House said US President Donald Trump was monitoring the situation, Efe reported.
“The President has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, referring further questions to the Pentagon.
A US-led coalition spokesman, Col. Sean Ryan, said that its forces had been conducting a routine patrol in the city.
The IS released two brief statements through Amaq, its semi-official media arm, claiming that the attack by a suicide bomber targeted a coalition patrol, killing or injuring nine US soldiers, according to SITE Intelligence.
The bombing comes a month after Trump announced a rapid withdrawal of US forces from Syria, tweeting: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
The president later walked back on his claim of the IS’ defeat, amid confusion over the timeline for the American withdrawal.
The IS, which at its height controlled swaths of territory across parts of Syria and Iraq, has lost the vast majority of areas it once held, Dow Jones added in its report to EFE.
Its territory has shrunk to a small pocket in eastern Syria. But as the group has lost ground, it has increasingly turned to guerrilla-style attacks — using suicide bombings and sleeper cells to target civilians and those fighting it.
In March, an American and a British service member of the coalition were killed in Manbij when an improvised explosive device exploded near their vehicles. Five others were wounded.
Manbij has been the focus of intense wrangling from all sides involved in the Syrian conflict.
Turkey has threatened to attack the city if the Kurdish YPG militia don’t withdraw.
The YPG is an offshoot of the Kurdish separatist PKK, which both Turkey and the US have designated a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime and its main military backer, Russia, have nearby outposts and have inched closer to the city after the YPG asked the Syrian government for protection from a possible Turkish attack.
With the US beginning its withdrawal from Syria, the Kurdish forces are expected to strike a deal with the Assad government.