Four American soldiers killed in northern Syria

Four US soldiers were killed, and three others, injured, when an explosion occurred during a patrol in Manbij, in northern Syria, US government officials confirmed Wednesday.

The attack reportedly resulted in 16 deaths in total, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which monitors the situation through observers in the country.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State.

IS propaganda reports that a suicide bomber detonated his charges as the patrol passed.

“An explosion occurred near a restaurant, targeting Americans, and there were with them militia men of the Military Council of Manbij,” said a witness.

The Manbij Military Council has controlled the city since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, dominated by Kurdish militia), backed by the United States, seized it in 2016 at the expense of ISIS.

The attack comes just days after Washington confirmed that  military equipment was withdrawn from Syria , in anticipation of US troop departure announced by the US president.

Donald Trump justified his decision by arguing that the IS had been defeated , an assertion strongly contested by members of his administration, congressional officials, experts and countries allied with the Americans.

In disagreement with this decision, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and  US envoy for the international anti-jihadist coalition Brett McGurkresigned.

Speaking Wednesday at a meeting in Washington of 184 heads of US diplomatic missions around the world, US Vice President Mike Pence maintained that IS had been defeated in Syria.

“The caliphate collapsed and Daesh was defeated,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Mike Pence did not mention at this meeting the attack in Syria, even if his spokesman had said earlier in the day that he was informed of the situation.

With information from Associated Press and Reuters

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