Beirut, Mar 30 (AFP) Two members of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group were killed in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, the US military and a monitor said today.
The attack in Manbij, a city where US personnel is stationed, was carried out late last night, the day US President Donald Trump said he would pull out forces “very soon”.
“Two Coalition personnel were killed and five were wounded by an improvised explosive device in Syria” at around midnight, the US-led coalition said in a statement.
It did not provide the nationalities of the pair nor did any group immediately claim responsibility for the attack.
The US-led coalition said it was withholding details on the circumstances of the attack pending further investigation.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor which relies on a nationwide network of sources on the ground, said the attack hit a convoy in Manbij.
The monitor said four members of the local council were also wounded in the explosion, which struck in the heart of the city.
Manbij used to be a key hub for the jihadists when their self-styled “caliphate” was at its peak. It was retaken by Kurdish-led forces backed by the coalition.
It is located between the northern city of Aleppo and the western bank of the Euphrates, less than 30 kilometres south of the border with Turkey.
Manbij lies where several international influence zones meet and risks becoming a new flashpoint in the post-IS scramble for Syria.
“We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” Trump told industrial workers in Ohio yesterday.
Also yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron met a delegation from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and Kurdish official Asya Abdullah said afterwards that France was planning on sending “new French troops to Manbij”.
The presidency did not explicitly deny the reinforcements but stressed it was not planning any military operation in Syria outside the US-led coalition.
France is the United States’ main military partner in the coalition, whose thousands of air strikes have played a key role in defeating IS in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey and its Syrian proxies launched a major offensive against the SDF in northern Syria in January that has already resulted in the capture of the Kurdish-majority region of Afrin.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to expand the operation to other areas where Kurdish forces are present, including the city of Manbij.(AFP) AMS 03301835
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.