SYRIA (Fox News) – U.S. service members were among the people killed after a suicide blast struck near a U.S.-led coalition patrol in Syria on Wednesday, a military official said.
“U.S. service members 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 spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, wrote on Twitter without specifying the number of casualties.
The explosion, reportedly caused by a suicide bomber, hit near the main market in the northern city of Manbij, witnesses told Reuters. U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 16 people were killed in the incident, although officials have not confirmed the number of casualties.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders earlier said in a statement: “The President has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria. For any specific questions please contact the Department of Defense.”
Photos and videos showed damage to a restaurant, vehicles and other nearby buildings. Debris and blood covered the street.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the blast, saying one of its members carried out a suicide attack and detonated his vest with explosives. The Observatory and the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council, which runs the town, also said a suicide bomber was involved but did not immediately have any further details.
The attack comes just days after President Trump tweeted the “long overdue pullout” of U.S. soldiers from Syria has begun. He announced in December he would be pulling out about 2,000 American troops in Syria.
“Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack [ISIS] again from existing nearby base if it reforms,” the president tweeted on Sunday.
A U.S. defense official told Fox News last Friday that the U.S.-led military coalition in Syria started the process of removing troops from the region, but wouldn’t confirm further details for security purposes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.