TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he believes the recent deadly bomb attack in Syria’s flashpoint northern city of Manbij, which killed several American soldiers, would not impact US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from war-torn Syria.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Croatian counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, in Ankara, Erdogan said Wednesday's bomb attack in Kurdish-controlled Manbij “might have been meant to affect Trump's decision to pull out from Syria.”
Erdogan said that at least 20 people, including five US troops, were killed in the bomb explosion that struck near a patrol of the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Manbij.
A US official had earlier told Reuters that four American troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast claimed by Daesh terrorist group. 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," the Turkish leader said.
Following Manbij’s bomb attack, US Vice President Mike Pence said that the withdrawal of American troops from Syria would go ahead as planned, but US forces would remain in the region to ensure that “ISIS (Daesh) does not rear its ugly head again.”
The attack was the first such attack by Daesh since Trump’s last month announcement that he was bringing home the American troops deployed in Syria - some 2,000 - alleging they had succeeded in their mission to defeat the terrorist group.
His abrupt move sparked concern among officials in Washington, prompting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to step down in protest.
Trump announced the plan amid plans by Turkey to launch an operation against anti-Damascus Kurdish militants.
The Kurdish militants in northern Syria, who have long enjoyed US support, feel abandoned by Washington.
Ankara and Washington engaged in a war of words over the fate of the Kurdish militants in Syria following the planned withdrawal of American troops. Turkey views the Washington-backed militants as terrorists.
Trump threatened to devastate NATO ally Turkey economically if it launches attacks against the Kurdish militants in Syria when US troops leave the Arab country.
Trump’s national security adviser John Boltonhas said that a US withdrawal would only occur after the US had drawn up a contingency plan with its allies in the region to protect Kurdish militants.
Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “ensuring that the Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds” was “still part of the American mission” in Syria.
The Turkish military, with support from allied militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, has launched two cross-border operations in northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch”, against the YPG Kurdish militants and Daesh Takfiri terrorists.