Four US victims killed in deadly Isil attack
Four American servicemen were killed in an Isil suicide bombing in Syria yesterday, calling into question Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops before the Islamist group had been defeated.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside a restaurant in the flashpoint northern city of Manbij, where US coalition forces were on patrol, killing 16 people, including two American troops, two US contractors and a number of local officials and civilians. Three more US servicemen were injured.
The attack was claimed by Isil. It is the deadliest single incident for the US since it intervened in Syria in 2015, and the second such attack on coalition troops since Mr Trump declared in December he would be recalling all 2,000 troops in the country, a decision that appears to have emboldened the jihadists.
On January 5, they fired a missile into a group of coalition troops on patrol further south in Deir Ezzor.
US Vice-President Mike Pence repeated Mr Trump's plans for a drawdown yesterday. "We'll stay in the region and we'll stay in the fight to ensure that Isil does not rear its ugly head again," he said hours after the latest attack.
Mr Trump had declared the fight against Isil nearly over, but fierce fighting has continued in Deir Ezzor and counter-attacks are setting back the US and its allies. The latest attack will put Mr Trump in a predicament: on the one hand, he has claimed the US will not leave until its mission to defeat Isil is complete, but he also wants to make good on a campaign promise to bring troops home as soon as possible.
"[The attack] lends credence to the widespread concern that arose following President Trump's order to withdraw from Syria - that doing so was extremely premature," said Charles Lister, of the Washington-based think-tank, the Middle East Institute. (© Daily Telegraph, London)