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Pentagon IDs 3 of 4 Americans killed in IS-claimed Syria attack

By Clyde Hughes
Pentagon IDs 3 of 4 Americans killed in IS-claimed Syria attack
Four Americans died in Manbij, in northern Syria, in a suicide bombing Wednesday. U.S.-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units and the Syrian Democratic Forces control the territory. File Photo by EPA-EFE

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Defense Department officials released the names of three of the four Americans who died in a suicide bombing in northern Syria this week

The Pentagon identified them as Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Fla.; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of upstate New York; and Defense Department civilian Scott A. Wirtz, of St. Louis, Mo., a department release stated.

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The four died Wednesday in Manbij, a key city in northern Syria near the Turkish border that is patrolled by a U.S.-led coalition. U.S. Central Command said a defense contractor, who has not been identified, also died in the explosion. The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Three other service members were hurt in the explosion, which happened at a busy restaurant during a local engagement. The suicide bomber approached the coalition forces then detonated the bomb.

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Video footage showed an explosion on a busy street and what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter evacuating the injured.

Wednesday's attack is the first to include U.S. casualties since President Donald Trump announced a full U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

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That announcement led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and calls from Republican legislators such as U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for Trump to reconsider. Since then, national security adviser John Bolton has said the pullout will be based on conditions that protect Kurdish fighters, who've been part of the U.S.-led coalition but are considered terrorists by Turkey.

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Trump addressed the deaths during remarks at the Pentagon on missile defense strategy Thursday.

"My deepest condolences to the families of the brave American heroes who laid down their lives yesterday in selfless service to our nation," the president said. "These are great people, great, great people. We will never forget their noble and immortal sacrifice."

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