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IS claims responsibility for blast targeting US patrol in Syria's Manbij

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-16 19:53

DAMASCUS - The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that targeted a US patrol in Syria's Kurdish-controlled city of Manbij on Wednesday, according to local media reports.

The suicide bombing happened while a US patrol was passing in the central part of Manbij in the northeastern countryside of Aleppo province in northern Syria.

The state news agency SANA cited media reports as saying that four US soldiers were killed along with a number of Kurdish fighters in the suicide bombing.

For its part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said the bombing is the first of its kind to hit Manbij in terms of targeting a convoy of the US-led coalition in the city.

After the blast, US forces cordoned off the area and a helicopter took the bodies of the slain soldiers and the wounded ones among other injured people to areas in the eastern Euphrates River.

Manbij is controlled by the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council (MMC) and US forces usually patrol the city after growing tension between the Turkey-backed rebels around Manbij and the Kurdish-led militia inside the city.

The Syrian army has recently deployed units in the countryside of Manbij amid ongoing talks for entering the city and assuming control to strip Turkey of the pretext to attack the city.

Additionally, the Kurdish militia group rejected the Turkey-backed plan to impose a security zone in northern Syria.

In a report Wednesday, a political leader of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) rejected the idea of imposing a security zone in northern Syria by Turkey, the Saudi-funded Al Arabiya TV reported.

Citing Riad Dardar, the joint chief of the SDC, the report said that a security zone supervised by Turkey in northern Syria would be rejected.

"Turkey should have no hand in such area, neither should the extremist militants, which should not be allowed to get in or out of such a zone," he said.

He noted that the security zone, which was discussed by Turkey and the US, should not be controlled by any of the conflicting sides.

It is worth noting that the SDC is the political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, which is backed by the U.S. and controlled areas in northeastern Syria.

His remarks come against the backdrop of the recent remarks of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump to impose a 32-km security zone along the Syrian border.

The Kurdish groups have found themselves trapped in the middle since late December, when Trump said he decided to withdraw American troops from Syria.

After that time, the Kurdish militia started leaning toward the Syrian government in order to settle the situation in the Kurdish-controlled areas and to avert a planned Turkish campaign targeting the Kurdish militia.

However, no concrete results have yet surfaced except for the fact that the Syrian Army has recently deployed its troops in the countryside of the Kurdish-controlled Manbij city and is now on the frontline between the Turkey-backed rebels and the Kurdish-led militia.

A day earlier, the Syrian Foreign Ministry lashed out at the remarks of Erdogan about the security zone in northern Syria.

In a statement, the ministry said Erdogan's remarks and actions indicated that his country "only deals with the language of occupation and aggression," adding that Erdogan's actions "run against the simplest principles and charter of the UN."

It stressed that the Syrian government is determined to protect the country's territorial integrity and will defend the Syrian territory against any Turkish occupation.

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