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Five Kurdish fighters killed in suicide car bomb attack in northern Syria

The attack came less than a week after another attack on the US-led force and its local partners in the strategic city of Manbij
Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa after battles with Islamic State group, October 2017 (Reuters)

A suicide car bomb attack on a military convoy in northeastern Syria on Monday killed five members of a Kurdish-majority group accompanying US-led coalition troops, the spokesperson of the US coalition against the Islamic State said.

Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) confirmed that "a combined US and Syrian partner force convoy was involved in an apparent VBIED [vehicle-borne improvised explosive device] attack today in Syria".

"There were no US casualties," the spokesperson added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said five fighters from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in the attack, which occurred on a road in the Hasakeh province.

"A suicide attacker driving a bomb-laden car targeted a convoy of American forces accompanied by the SDF on the Hasakeh-Shadadi road," the Observatory said.

The head of the British-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said the attacker's vehicle hit an SDF vehicle.

Shadadi lies to the south of Hasakeh, capital of the eponymous province, which has been mostly spared by the war that erupted in Syria nearly eight years ago.

The attack came less than a week after another attack on the US-led force and its local partners in the strategic Syrian city of Manbij.

Four Americans - two members of the military, a Pentagon civilian and a contractor - were killed in a blast that targeted a restaurant in the city centre on 16 January. Ten civilians were also killed in the attack, as well as five fighters from the local force that was patrolling the city alongside the coalition.

The Manbij attack cost Washington its worst combat losses since it deployed forces to the war-torn country to combat IS.

The attacks targeting the US-led coalition and its allies on the ground come a month after US President Donald Trump's surprise announcement that he had ordered a complete troop pullout from Syria. There are about 2,000 American troops in Syria.

Trump and other senior US officials have since sent mixed messages about the pace and scope of the withdrawal.

Turkey has repeatedly urged the Americans to make way for its own military plans in northern Syria, where the beleaguered Kurds are increasingly turning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian sponsor for support.