Four Americans killed in ISIS-claimed attack in Syria

Four Americans killed in ISIS-claimed attack in Syria
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Four Americans, including two U.S. troops, were killed in an explosion Wednesday in Syria, U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement.

The military said that the other two Americans who died were a Defense Department civilian and a contractor supporting the Pentagon. Three other service members were also injured. 

The names of those who died has not been released, pending notification of next of kin.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) wrote on Twitter that the troops were killed "during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today."

"We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time," a coalition spokesman tweeted Wednesday morning.

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ISIS has taken credit for the attack through its Amaq news agency, which said an attacker used an explosives-laden vest to target coalition forces.

Local reports said members of the U.S.-led international anti-ISIS coalition were caught in a suicide blast in the center of the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE has been briefed on the situation.

“The president has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria,” Sanders said in a statement.

She referred further questions to the Pentagon.

In a second statement Wednesday afternoon, Sanders extended the White House's "deepest sympathies" to the families of those killed.

"Our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria," she said. "We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country."

Manbij is a Kurdish-controlled town that U.S. and U.S.-backed forces retook from ISIS in 2016.

A spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, which runs the town now, said on Twitter that the blast hit a busy market area.

“Terror hits the safe city of Manbij. An explosion in Manbij's busy market [street], initial reports of casualties,” spokesman Shervan Derwish tweeted.

The blast comes as the United States begins a withdrawal ordered by Trump last month. On Friday, U.S. forces began removing some equipment for Syria, but no troops have withdrawn yet.

Trump first ordered an immediate withdrawal, but officials have since said the withdrawal will happen more slowly.

Responding to the attack, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: US strike in Somalia kills ISIS deputy | Trump's love of acting officials | Terrorist designation against Iranian military unit takes effect | Kim sets deadline for talks with US Trump learns to love acting officials Overnight Defense: Shanahan expects more troops to deploy to border | Transgender ban takes effect | International court rejects probe into alleged Afghanistan war crimes MORE stressed Wednesday that the "fight against terrorism is ongoing."

"Allow me to extend on behalf of [the Pentagon] our thoughts and prayers to the families and team members of those killed today in Manbij," he said ahead of a meeting with Japan's defense minister. "Our fight against terrorism is ongoing and we will remain vigilant and committed to its destruction."

"Today is a stark reminder of the dangerous missions that men and women in uniform perform on our behalf each and every day," Shahanan added.

Updated at 3:30 p.m.