Four Americans were killed in an explosion in Syria on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Central Command. Among those killed were two service members, a civilian employee with the Department of Defense and a D.O.D. contractor, officials said.
A spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, said in a statement posted to Twitter that the service members were conducting a routine patrol at the time of the explosion. Three other service members were wounded in the explosion.
“Our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.”We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country.”
The deaths are the first U.S. casualties since President Donald Trump announced intentions to withdraw troops from the country in December.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the rare morning attack in the U.S.-patrolled town of Manbij in northern Syria, saying one of its members carried out a suicide attack and detonated his vest filled with explosives.
Videos released by local activists and news agencies showed a restaurant that suffered extensive damage and a street covered with debris and blood. Several cars were also damaged. Another video showed a helicopter flying over the area.
A local town council and a Syrian war monitoring group said the blast occurred near a restaurant near the town’s main market, near a patrol of the U.S.-led coalition, killing and wounding more than a dozen people.
Reporting and writing from The Associated Press was used in this report.
This story will be updated.
Photo: This frame grab from video provided by Hawar News, ANHA, the news agency for the semi-autonomous Kurdish areas in Syria, shows a damaged restaurant where an explosion occurred, in Manbij, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syrian war monitoring group, and a local town council said Wednesday that the explosion took place near a patrol of the U.S.-led coalition and that there are casualties. (ANHA via Associated Press)