Istanbul: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said 20 people were killed in the bomb attack in northern Syria on Wednesday, including five US troops.
A US official had earlier told Reuters four US troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast, which an Islamic State-affiliated site said was the work of a suicide bomber. Others said only two had been killed.
“The information I have is news pointing toward that there are five US soldiers and 20 died in total,” Erdogan said in a news conference with the Croatian president in Ankara.
The attack appears to be the deadliest on US forces in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015.
Erdogan said he did not believe the attack in the Syrian town of Manbij would impact US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria – “because I saw honourable Trump’s determination on this point,” he said.
An Islamic State-affiliated website, Amaq, said a suicide attacker with an explosive vest had targeted a foreign military patrol.
Last month, US President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria after concluding Islamic State had been defeated there.
The announcement rattled allies in the region and top US officials, including Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis who quit.
The coalition, in its tweet, said its forces had conducted “a routine patrol in Syria” on Wednesday.
Two witnesses described the blast to Reuters. “An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces for the Manbij Military Council with them,” one said.
The Manbij Military Council militia has controlled the town since US-backed Kurdish-led forces took it from Islamic State in 2016. It is located near areas held by Russian-backed Syrian government forces and by anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkey.