Lindsey Graham cites deadly blast in appeal to keep troops in Syria

Arturo Kim
January 16, 2019

Four US servicemen were killed and three more wounded, the Reuters news agency reported a US official as saying.

The attack took place in the northern town of Manbij, which is controlled by rebels opposed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. military announced Friday that it has begun withdrawing equipment from Syria but declined to provide details, leaving it unclear whether any materiel has been pulled out of the Manbij area.

The US military says a number of service members were killed Wednesday in an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria - the first instance of US casualties since US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw troops from the country last month. "We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time", it said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 people were killed including nine civilians and others were wounded in the blast.

"My concern, by the statement by President Trump, is that you set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we're fighting", Graham said during a hearing in Washington.

The attack comes as the US has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria.

At the time, critics warned that this could be Trump's "mission accomplished" moment, and here we are.

Ruptly's contributor on the ground said the USA military ramped up security inside the city following the attack and put the city hospital, where victims have been transported, on lockdown. The man was allegedly targeting US troops, who were conducting a routine patrol.

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On 19 December, Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all USA forces in Syria , which are believed to number around 2,000. It also led to major criticism that the USA was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.


Graham was among those who appear to have been able to persuade Trump to slow down the announced withdrawal of about 2,000 US forces there.

At least four USA troops have been killed in a suicide bomb attack claimed by Isis in Syria, just weeks after Donald Trump said the terrorist group had been defeated and he was pulling out American forces.

The ISIS-run news site Amaq claimed "that the attack was carried out by a member of the group wearing a suicide vest", according to CBS News.

Shortly after the attack, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault targeting the US-led coalition.

Local reports suggested the soldiers were inside the restaurant when a bomber detonated their device outside. In making his announcement, Trump declared in a video released on Twitter: "We have won against ISIS".

The bombing comes as Syrian Kurds present in areas around Manbij reject any Turkish presence in a planned "safe zone" to include Kurdish-held areas along the frontier.

The blast occurred as United States military personnel were conducting a patrol of the city. In August, the Pentagon published an inspector general report which said the USA military estimates that ISIS has as many as 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.

US troops deployed to the country are training and advising local partner forces battling ISIS.

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