(CNSNews.com) – Just five days after four American personnel were among 16 people killed in an ISIS suicide bombing in northern Syria, the terrorist group claimed responsibility for another bombing targeting U.S. troops in the same part of the country, although this time no casualties were confirmed.
The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition confirmed that a U.S. and “Syrian partner force” convoy had been targeted by an apparent vehicle bomb (VBIED), adding that there were “no U.S. casualties.”
“We will continue to review the situation and provide updates as appropriate,” it said in a message early Monday afternoon Syria time.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing via its “news agency,” Amaq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an explosive-laded vehicle, driven by a suicide bomber according to its sources, was detonated on the road linking Raqqa to Hasakah as a convoy of U.S. and allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was passing.
The monitoring groups said five SDF fighters were reported to have been killed, and two U.S. soldiers injured.
But an SDF statement reported by Kurdish media outlets contradicted the report of fatalities, saying that “losses were limited to the financial only.”
The SDF said in its statement that as ISIS remnants are being eradicated from the area, “the terrorist organization resorts to launch suicide attacks using car bombs to obstruct this campaign.”
It said the terror attacks would not undermine its determination to complete the liberation of the area from ISIS.
A month ago, President Trump announced plans to withdraw from Syria the 2,000 U.S. troops who have been deployed there in support of the SDF fighters.
Last Wednesday, the U.S. sustained its biggest loss of life since the Syria deployment began, when an ISIS suicide bomber killed four Americans – two men and two women – and 12 others in the northern city of Manbij.
The Pentagon later identified three of the fallen Americans as an Army Green Beret, a Navy linguist, and a decorated former Navy SEAL employed as a civilian by the Defense Intelligence Agency. They were:
--Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida.
--Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon Kent, 35, of upstate New York.
--DoD civilian Scott Wirtz, 42, of St. Louis, Missouri. According to the DIA, Wirtz served multiple deployments as an “operations support specialist,” a role that entails managing “human intelligence collection operations enabling DOD to meet national security information requirements.”
The fourth American killed was named by U.S. Central Command, and her employer, defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services, as Ghadir Taher. Valiant said that out of respect for her family, it would not comment further, “other than to say she was a talented and highly-respected colleague loved by many who will be dearly missed.” Taher’s brother told U.S. media she worked as an Arabic interpreter.
Photos posted on social media by a spokesman for the SDF’s Manbij Military Council showed locals paying respect to those who lost their lives in the January 16 bombing, along with large posters of some of the American and SDF personnel killed.
“Today we were in the memory of the martyrs who were in the treacherous bombing,” said spokesman Shervan Derwish. “Bring peace, defeat terrorism and make the world safer,” he added, describing the fallen as heroes.
Comprising Kurdish and Arab fighters, the SDF has been an effective U.S. ally in the campaign to defeat ISIS.
Since Trump’s withdrawal announcement, the administration has been stressing to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he should not attack the SDF fighters – and specifically, those attached to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) – after the U.S. troops depart.
Turkey is loath to see Kurds retain control of Syrian territory near its border. It considers the YPG as terrorists because of their ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which for three decades has been fighting a separatist struggle against the Turkish state.