Suicide attack on Kurdish-US convoy in Syria kills 5: monitor

The attack on Hasakah killed five members of a Kurdish-led force who were accompanying US-led coalition troops. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019

Suicide attack on Kurdish-US convoy in Syria kills 5: monitor

  • The suicide attack occurred on a road in Hasakah province, in the north east of Syria
  • The coalition confirmed the attack by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device

BEIRUT: A suicide car bomb attack on a military convoy in northeastern Syria on Monday killed five members of a Kurdish-led force accompanying US troops in an anti-extremist coalition, a monitor said.

The attack, claimed by the Daesh group, came less than a week after another deadly attack on US forces in Syria and a month after Washington announced a US troop pullout from the war-torn country.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said five fighters from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed in the blast on a road in Hasakah province.

“A suicide attacker driving a bomb-laden car targeted a convoy of American forces accompanied by the SDF on the Hasakah-Shadadi road,” the Observatory said.

Shadadi lies to the south of Hasakah, capital of the eponymous province, which has been relatively spared by the war that erupted in Syria nearly eight years ago.

The coalition confirmed the attack by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, but said there were no US casualties.

“A combined US and Syrian partner force convoy was involved in an apparent VBIED attack today in Syria,” coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said on Twitter.

“There were no US casualties.”

The head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said the attacker had plowed into an SDF vehicle.

Footage on Kurdish media showed a plume of grey smoke rising up from a narrow road flanked by dry land.

A witness told AFP the blast took place by a checkpoint held by Kurdish forces a dozen kilometers outside Shadadi as the US convoy drove past.

The witness said he heard planes fly overhead, before the area was completely cordoned off by Kurdish fighters.

The Kurdish Asayesh security forces said no one had died in the attack, which hit ten meters from a checkpoint outside Shadadi.

“A bomb-laden car driven by a terrorist tried to target a coalition convoy as it passed by, lightly wounding a female member of the Asayesh,” the statement said, reporting no other casualties.

Daesh propaganda channel Amaq claimed the attack on a joint US-Kurdish convoy.

The attack came less than a week after another attack on the US-led force and its local partners in the strategic city of Manbij.

Four Americans — two members of the military, a Pentagon civilian and a contractor — were killed in a blast that targeted a restaurant in the city center on January 16.

It was also claimed by Daesh.

The Manbij attack cost Washington its worst combat losses since it deployed in the war-torn country to combat Daesh, who established a self-proclaimed “caliphate” across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Ten civilians and five SDF fighters were also killed in the Manbij attack.

The US Department of Defense had previously reported only two American personnel killed in combat in Syria, in separate incidents.

This month’s attacks targeting the US-led coalition and its allies follow US President Donald Trump’s shock December announcement that he had ordered a complete troop pullout from Syria, as Daesh had been “largely defeated.”

Trump and other senior US officials have since sent mixed messages about the pace and scope of the withdrawal.

Turkey has repeatedly urged Washington to make way for its own military plans in northern Syria, where the beleaguered Kurds are increasingly turning to the regime and its Russian sponsor for support.

The SDF is fighting to expel Daesh fighters from the remaining shreds of the extremist group’s “caliphate” in a small pocket of land in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.

Syria’s complex war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.


Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

Updated 11 min 45 sec ago

Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

BENGHAZI: Forces loyal to Libyan eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday they had killed 16 Turkish soldiers in recent weeks, a day after Turkey acknowledged it had lost several "martyrs" in combat in the north African country.
Khalid al-Mahjoub, a spokesman for Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA), said the Turks were killed in the port city of Misrata, in battles in Tripoli and in the town of al-Falah south of the capital.
Turkey backs Libya's weak internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and has sent Syrian soldiers along with some of its own soldiers and weapons.
Haftar's forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday acknowleged some Turkish losses in Libya's "struggle".
"We are there (in Libya) with our (Turkish) soldiers and our teams from the Syrian National Army. We continue the struggle there. We have several martyrs. In return, however, we neutralized nearly a hundred (of Haftar's) legionaries," Erdogan said.
The Syrian National Army, also known as Free Syrian Army, is a Turkey-backed Syrian rebel group fighting against pro-Damascus forces in northern Syria, where 16 Turkish soldiers have been killed so far this month.
The deployment of Turkish soldiers and sophisticated air defences has erased small gains made by the LNA with the help of Russian mercenaries, returning the frontline roughly to where it was at start of Haftar's campaign in April 2019.
Ceasefire talks between Libya's warring sides resumed on Thursday after the GNA had pulled out of negotiations following the shelling of Tripoli's port by Haftar's forces.