ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on the strategic city of Manbij in northern Syria that reportedly targeted a U.S. patrol. The explosion has killed 14 people, including an unknown number of U.S. soldiers.
What are the details?
The explosion hit a restaurant near the center of the city. The Independent reported that the attack was targeting a U.S. patrol.
ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for the attack through its propaganda news outlet, Amaq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in the United Kingdom that has been reporting on the crisis in Syria for years, reported that two U.S. soldiers had also been killed in the attack. An official at the Pentagon confirmed to USA Today that U.S. troops had been killed, but did not give a number. Another official told Reuters that four U.S. soldiers had been killed and three had been wounded.
A senior Kurdish official told NBC News that U.S. troops had been wounded in the blast. This official also said that the suicide bomber deliberately approached forces before detonating his device.
In a statement to CBS News, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump was "fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria."
Where did this happen?
Manbij is a Kurdish-controlled city and a known base of operations for U.S. troops. The Kurds are a stateless ethnic group with settlements spread across several different countries in the Middle East. They have proven themselves to be invaluable allies to the United States in the fight against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.
In March, Turkey threatened to take the city for its strategic value, whether or not U.S. troops were still inside it. The Turkish government views all ethnic Kurds as terrorists, and has been using the instability caused by the Syrian civil war to launch incursions against their strongholds.
After the United States announced that it would be pulling all its forces from Syria, the Kurds began negotiating with the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, offering him control of Manbij in return for protection from Turkey.