Two coalition personnel, including U.S. service member, killed in Syria

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BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. service member and another person from the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State were killed by an improvised explosive device in Syria, U.S officials said on Friday.

They are the first coalition service members to be killed or wounded in an attack this year.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity and citing initial information, said one of the people killed in the blast on Thursday blast was an American and the incident took place near the city of Manbij in northern Syria. They declined to comment on the nationality of the other individual.

Earlier on Friday, a coalition statement said two personnel had been killed and five wounded in Syria, but did not provide their nationalities or the exact location of the incident.

The explosion happened on Thursday night, the coalition statement said.

The wounded were evacuated for treatment, according to the statement. Details were being withheld pending further investigation, it said.

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

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, whose whereabouts are unknown.

The United States says it has about 5,200 troops in Iraq, deployed alongside Iraqi armed forces. Some 2,000 U.S. troops are 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.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Larry King and Bill Trott

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