In­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gins af­ter road­side bomb kills and in­jures coali­tion staff in Syria

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

TWO coali­tion per­son­nel have been killed and five oth­ers wounded by a road­side bomb in Syria, the US mil­i­tary said.

It is a rare such at­tack since the Us-led coali­tion sent troops into the war-torn coun­try.

The mil­i­tary did not say where the in­ci­dent oc­curred or the na­tion­al­i­ties of the ca­su­al­ties but it came hours af­ter a lo­cal Syr­ian of­fi­cial said a road­side bomb ex­ploded in the tense, mixed Arab-kur­dish town of Manbij that is not far from the bor­der with Turkey.

Manbij is un­der threat from a Turk­ish mil­i­tary oper­a­tion. Ankara says Syr­ian Kur­dish mili­ti­a­men it views as “ter­ror­ists” and an ex­ten­sion of Kur­dish in­sur­gents in­side Turkey are in con­trol of the town.

The US mil­i­tary state­ment said the at­tack hap­pened on Thurs­day night and that the wounded were be­ing evac­u­ated for fur­ther med­i­cal treat­ment.

US mil­i­tary spokesman Colonel Ryan Dil­lon could not im­me­di­ately say who was be­hind the at­tack. “There is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der way to iden­tify who they could pos­si­bly be, ” he said.

The colonel re­fused to give the na­tion­al­i­ties of the dead and wounded as well as the lo­ca­tion of the at­tack un­til next of kin were no­ti­fied.

Mo­hammed Abu Adel, head of the Manbij Mil­i­tary Coun­cil, an Arab-kur­dish group in the town backed by the US, said the bomb went off hun­dreds of me­tres from a se­cu­rity head­quar­ters that houses the coun­cil just be­fore mid­night on Thurs­day.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Mr Dil­lon said an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing coali­tion forces was re­ported in Manbij but said no more in­for­ma­tion was avail­able.

The town has seen a num­ber of small ex­plo­sions, protests and an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on a mem­ber of the Manbij mil­i­tary coun­cil in re­cent weeks.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials blame Turkey and other ad­ver­saries for seek­ing to sow chaos in the town that was con­trolled by Is­lamic State group mil­i­tants un­til the sum­mer of 2016. The mil­i­tary coun­cil has since been in con­trol and US troops pa­trol the town and area with troops based nearby.

Mean­while, near the cap­i­tal Da­m­as­cus, there were con­flict­ing re­ports on whether a main rebel group will evac­u­ate the largest and last rebel-held town in the area, known as eastern Ghouta.

Syr­ian state TV said an agree­ment is about to be reached for an Army of Is­lam evac­u­a­tion but the group de­nied the re­ports.

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