The restaurant rocked by the suicide bomb attack that killed four Americans in Syria on Wednesday was a favorite lunch spot for troops, who'd stop for French fries and a shawarma sandwich, often several times a week. Military leaders and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen even dined without body armor at the Palace of the Princes in July. "This is what stability looks like. This is what winning looks like," Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II then said, per the New York Times. Officials now say troops made themselves vulnerable with regular visits to the restaurant in Manbij—viewed as a safe haven since US and Kurdish forces drove ISIS out of the city in 2016—where armed vehicles were sometimes parked out front.
After a patrol stopped for a late lunch Wednesday, an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest near the entrance, killing at least 14, per CNN. Two US service members, a Green Beret and a female Navy sailor, died along with a Defense Intelligence Agency employee and an interpreter. "We will never forget their noble and immortal sacrifice," President Trump said Thursday, less than a month after he declared victory over ISIS in Syria and vowed to withdraw all 2,000 US troops, per the Washington Post. Some officials fear more attacks could come: One tells the Post that as we "destroy the last remnants of the caliphate ... ISIS has moved toward an insurgency. As that insurgency develops, we'll be a prime target for that as we withdraw. Everyone's aware of that, and it's part of our planning." (More details here.)