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”.

 

 


China, Iran meet amid efforts to preserve nuclear deal

Updated 10 min 25 sec ago
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China, Iran meet amid efforts to preserve nuclear deal

  • Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the EU have been trying to preserve the 2015 deal
  • The deal was meant to keep Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon but the US withdrew from it last year

BEIJING: The foreign ministers of China and Iran met in Beijing on Tuesday amid efforts to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
No details were immediately released about the discussions between China’s Wang Yi and Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is leading a delegation that includes parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani and the ministers of finance and petroleum, as well as the CEO of the country’s central bank.
Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union have been trying to preserve the 2015 deal meant to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in exchange for sanctions relief after the unilateral withdrawal of the US last year.
Zarif told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that a barter-type system known as INSTEX set up last month by France, Germany and Britain to allow businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran, and thereby evade possible US sanctions, fell short of commitments to save the nuclear deal.
Zarif addressed the conference a day after US Vice President Mike Pence prodded Germany, France and Britain to follow Washington in withdrawing from the deal and to “stop undermining US sanctions.”
Prior to Larijani’s departure from Tehran, China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying Iran and China have “close and amicable” relations in diverse areas, and that both sides have enjoyed the support of each other in the international arena.