An ISIS suicide bomber killed four Americans in Manbij, Syria, on Wednesday. The terror group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, which it said was done by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest. Initial reports said more than a dozen people were killed in the blast.
Two American service members, one DoD civilian, and one DoD contractor were killed in the blast, according to U.S. Central Command. Three more service members were injured.
“An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces for the Manbij Military Council with them,” one witness told Reuters.
Army Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, confirmed that U.S. troops were killed “during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan read a statement about the attack during his meeting Wednesday with Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.
“Allow me to extend on behalf of the Department of Defense, our thoughts and prayers to the families and team members of those killed and wounded during today’s attack in Manbij,” Shanahan said. “Our fight against terrorism is ongoing and we will remain vigilant and committed to its destruction.”
“Today is a stark reminder of the dangerous missions that men and women in uniform perform on our behalf each and every day.”
Shanahan did not answer a question from Task & Purpose about whether the Manbij attack would affect the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, which President Donald Trump announced in December – prompting former Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign the following day.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that both he and President Trump condemn the attack against U.S. troops in Manbij.
“Our hearts are with the loved ones of the fallen,” Pence said in a statement. “We honor their memory and we will never forget their service and sacrifice.
“Thanks to the courage of our armed forces, we have crushed the ISIS caliphate and devastated its capabilities. As we begin to bring our troops home, the American people can be assured, for the sake of our soldiers, their families, and our nation, we will never allow the remnants of ISIS to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate – not now, not ever.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the president has been briefed on the attack and referred questions to the Pentagon. In a statement, Sanders said, “our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. 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.”
Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar – reportedly a member of the Army’s elite Delta Force – and a British service member were killed on March 30, 2018 in Manbij. Dunbar was on a mission to capture or kill an ISIS member when an improvised explosive device went off.
“ISIS has a network of sleeper cells across formerly ISIS-held terrain and is activating them as part of a planned resurgence,” Jennifer Cafarella, of the Institute for Understanding War think tank, told Task & Purpose. “ISIS’s attack in Manbij demonstrates the threat ISIS poses in its insurgent form and foreshadows the resurgence that will occur as security gaps grow after an American withdrawal.”
Pentagon identifies operators killed from embattled Special Forces unit in Afghanistan
Two Americans, a special operations soldier and an explosive ordnance disposal specialist on his first overseas deployment, were killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan on Friday amid volatile U.S.-Taliban peace talks and an alienated Afghan government.
Sergeant First Class William D. Lindsay, 34, from Cortez, Colorado, and Specialist Joseph “Joey” P. Collette, 29, from Lancaster, Ohio, were killed by small-arms fire during a joint operation between U.S. Army Green Berets and Afghan special forces soldiers in northern Kunduz Province. Four Afghan commandos were also killed, according to The New York Times.
Another special forces soldier, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Chris, whose last name is being withheld, was wounded during the firefight. He is listed in stable condition and was able to notify his family personally of his injury. Chris will be evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for follow-on treatment, Newsweek reported on Friday afternoon.
Two additional U.S. service members were also wounded from the same incident. We will not publish their names at this time, but both soldiers are expected to recover after being medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then on to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.
U.S. Army special forces teams, known as Operational Detachment Alphas, set out on a joint mission with soldiers from the Afghan National Army Commando Corps, the special forces arm of the regular army to raid a residential area in search of a high-value individual within the Gul Tepa District of Kunduz. Combat raids are typical missions for both American and Afghan troops as negotiations continue to draw the war to a close, said two Defense Department sources who asked not to be named due to Pentagon media regulations.
Unlike the rural, tribal regions of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, Kunduz is a bustling urban city, the sixth largest in Afghanistan with a population of more than 268,000, according to a 2015 United Nations reports.
Intelligence suggested Taliban fighters were not supposed to be in the area when the gun battle broke out, and because the special forces soldiers were in a residential area, no air support was provided, said the sources. The U.S. military sources said they believe the Taliban was tipped off and had set up an ambush for the American and Afghan forces.
More details can be found here.
Five British Special Forces operators wounded in Yemen
At least five British Special Forces commandos have been wounded in gun battles as part of a top-secret UK military campaign in Yemen, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The elite Special Boat Service (SBS) troops, whose presence in the war-ravaged country is shrouded in secrecy, suffered gunshot injuries in fierce clashes with Iranian-backed rebel militia in recent months. The SBS men were treated for leg and arm wounds following the battles in the Sa’dah area of northern Yemen, where up to 30 crack British troops are based. The casualties are understood to be now recovering in the UK.
The revelation that British forces are fighting in Yemen sparked angry criticism last night because the conflict, which has seen Saudi Arabia and Iran support opposing sides in a four-year civil war, has triggered the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.
Aid agencies have pleaded for a ceasefire to be negotiated to enable charities to help eight million Yemenis facing starvation and two million rendered homeless. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting.
The Mail on Sunday can also reveal how RAF engineers sent to Saudi Arabia to repair the kingdom’s fleet of military aircraft narrowly escaped death last week. Iranian-backed rebels launched a ‘suicide drone’ strike on the King Khalid airbase, where they are maintaining Tornado jets used to bomb civilian areas in Yemen.
According to reports, the drone exploded on the runway, destroying two Tornados. The MoD said no UK personnel were wounded.
An SBS source said: ‘The guys are fighting in an inhospitable desert and mountainous terrain against highly committed and well-equipped Houthi rebels. The SBS’s role is mainly training and mentoring but on occasions, they have found themselves in firefights and some British troops have been shot.
‘In a contact a few weeks ago, an SBS guy was shot in the hand and another guy was shot in the leg. Their injuries were a reminder that this is a very dangerous assignment. Obviously, nothing about the mission will be confirmed publicly by the Ministry of Defence unless a UK soldier is killed – they’d have to announce that.’
The SBS mentoring teams inside Yemen include medics, translators and Forward Air Controllers (FACs), whose job is to request air support from the Saudis.
The 200-strong SBS, which is based at Poole in Dorset, is a maritime Special Forces unit and was founded in 1940. It recruits mainly from the Royal Marines. SBS personnel served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan and most recently in operations against Islamic State in Syria.