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US Officials Identify Syrian Suicide Bomber as American

  • Kent Klein

The U.S. State Department has confirmed that an American carried out the May 25 suicide bombing in Syria. It is believed to be the first time a U.S. citizen has been involved in an attack of this kind as part of the Syrian civil war.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed Friday that the man's name was Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha.

US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki (State Dept. video)

US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki (State Dept. video)

"I can confirm that this individual was a U.S. citizen involved in a suicide bombing in Syria," she said. "We don't have further information beyond that to share at this time."

Abu-Salha, who had lived in the U.S. state of Florida, was identified as the man who launched Sunday's truck bombing outside a restaurant where Syrian government troops gathered in the government-held northwestern city of Idlib.

Opposition forces said he was a U.S. citizen who called himself Abu Hurayra al-Amriki. The name al-Amriki means "the American."

It is not known how many people died in the bombing.

Abu-Salha was identified as having taken part in activities with the al-Qaida-linked insurgency group Nusra Front. That group and the Islamic Front's Suqour al-Sham claimed responsibility for the blast.

Psaki says it is difficult for the U.S. to measure how many foreign fighters are taking part in Syria's three-year civil war.

"We are concerned about the flow of the foreign fighters into and out of Syria," she said. "It's difficult to provide that level of analysis or a precise figure but we're engaged in a focus outreach effort with key partner governments regarding our shared concern of foreign fighters to the Syrian conflict."

Opposition rebels said Abu-Salha's truck was loaded with 16 tons of explosives, headed for the al-Fanar restaurant. It was one of four truck bombings that day in Idlib province.

At least 160,000 people have died in fighting between government forces and opposition groups trying to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

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