Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

American and British soldiers killed in Syria died by friendly fire, inquiry finds

An ISIS IED was previously blamed for the 2018 explosion in Syria's Manbij

Sergeant Matt Tonroe (left) from the British Army 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment and US Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar, were killed by friendly fire in Manbij, Syria in March 2018, and not a roadside bomb as was previously claimed. Handout / EPA
Sergeant Matt Tonroe (left) from the British Army 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment and US Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar, were killed by friendly fire in Manbij, Syria in March 2018, and not a roadside bomb as was previously claimed. Handout / EPA

A British SAS soldier and a US commando who died in Syria last year were killed by “friendly fire” and not an ISIS roadside bomb, as was previously claimed.

Sgt Matt Tonroe from Manchester and MSgt Jonathan J Dunbar of Austin, Texas, were both 33 when they died while on a joint UK-US special forces patrol in Manbij, northern Syria last year.

The US Department of Defence originally said an improvised explosive device caused the casualties, in a statement released shortly after the incident in March 2018.

But a subsequent investigation concluded that the two men were killed by explosives carried by a comrade. On Saturday, a British Ministry of Defence spokesman said the deaths were cause by “the accidental detonation of explosives carried by coalition forces”.

Tonroe, who joined the military in 2004 and served as a sniper in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in Colchester, was the first British soldier to die while deployed to fight ISIS.

In Syria, he served with Seal Team 6, the American unit that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Dunbar joined the US military in May 2005 and had previously served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At the time of their deaths it was reported that the men were on a mission to capture or kill high-ranking ISIS targets. Five others were reported injured in the blast.

No further information about the incident has been made public.

Updated: July 28, 2019 02:03 PM

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