Daesh Syria attack kills at least 16, including US soldiers

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The aftermath of a suicide attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. (AFP from Hawar News Agency video)
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US armored vehicles at the scene of the suicide attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Daesh Syria attack kills at least 16, including US soldiers

  • Attack comes after Trump vowed to pull out US troops after defeating Daesh
  • Targeted a restaurant where US personnel were meeting members of the local militia supported by Washington

BEIRUT: A bomb attack claimed by Daesh killed US troops in northern Syria on Wednesday, weeks after President Donald Trump said the group was defeated there and he would pull out all American forces.
A US official who declined to be named said four US troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast, which a Daesh-affiliated site said was the work of a suicide bomber. Others said only two had been killed.
The US-led coalition fighting Daesh said that "US service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol", and that it was still gathering details.

Unusually, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan gave his own death toll for the attack, saying it had killed 20 people, including five US troops. Erdogan said he did not believe the attack would impact Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria.

The attack, which took place in the town of Manbij, controlled by rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, appears to be the deadliest on US forces in Syria since they deployed there in 2015.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said only two US troops had previously been killed in action in Syria. There were two additional non-combat fatalities.
Last month, Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria after concluding that Daesh had been defeated there.
Trump's announcement helped trigger the resignation of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, stunned allies and raised fears of a long-threatened Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
A witness in the city said the attack had targeted a restaurant where US personnel were meeting members of the local militia that Washington backs there.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said 16 people had been killed, including two Americans. A militia source in north Syria also said two US troops had been killed.
Daesh said a Syrian fighter had detonated his explosive vest on a foreign patrol in Manbij.
Two witnesses described the blast to Reuters.
"An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces from the Manbij Military Council with them," one said.
The Manbij Military Council militia has controlled the town since US-backed Kurdish-led forces took it from Daesh in 2016. It is located near areas held by Russian-backed Syrian government forces and by anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkey.
One of the witnesses said there was a "heavy" presence of military aircraft over Manbij following the blast, which took place near a vegetable market.
Photographs on a local Kurdish news site showed two mutilated bodies, several other bodies lying on the ground with people gathered around them, damage to a building and vehicles, and blood smears on a wall.
It was unclear whether the attack might influence Trump’s decision to give more time for the US withdrawal, a conflict he has tired of and described as “sand and death”.

 

 


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.