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Two coalition personnel killed in Syria, including a US soldier

UK Ministry of Defence later confirmed that a British soldier was killed whilst embedded with US forces
US forces at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters in Mount Karachok, Syria, 25 April 2017 (Reuters)

Two personnel with the US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group, including one American service member, and a British soldier, were killed and five were wounded by an improvised explosive device in Syria, the coalition said in a statement on Friday. 

The attack in Manbij, a city where US personnel are stationed, was carried out late on Thursday, the day US President Donald Trump said he would pull out forces "very soon".

"One of those killed was a US service member", Pentagon officials said.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) later confirmed that a member of the British armed forces, embedded with the United States military, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Syria. 

"The individual was embedded with US forces on a counter-Daesh operation when the incident occurred," a MOD spokesperson confirmed in a statement. 

"The family has been notified and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We cannot confirm any further details at this stage."

The UK soldier was the country's first fatal combat casualty in its three-year-long campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, with the last British soldier to die due to hostile action being in 2015 inside Afghanistan. 

Until now the UK has refused to comment on the presence of UK ground troops in Syria, though around 600 military personnel in the region are involved in an air campaign against the Islamic State group. 

About 10 coalition personnel have been killed in non-combat-related incidents since 1 January, including seven Americans who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq earlier this month, according to coalition statements and military sources.

The explosion happened on Thursday at 2100 GMT, a coalition statement said. Details were being withheld pending further investigation, the statement said.

The wounded were evacuated for further treatment, according to the statement, which did not give the nationalities of the casualties.

Islamic State militants continue to carry out bombings, ambushes and assassinations in Syria and Iraq despite the collapse last year of the cross-border "caliphate" declared in 2014 by their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The United States says it has about 5,200 troops in Iraq, deployed alongside Iraqi armed forces. Some 2,000 US troops are deployed in Syria, allied to a Kurdish-led alliance that holds the largest swath of territory still outside the control of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish forces and allies have recently seized the Afrin enclave in northern Syria from Syrian Kurdish YPG forces that are allied to the US stationed in neighbouring Manbij.

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