US Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer has been identified as one of the US service members killed in a suicide bombing attack in Syria Wednesday.
Farmer, 37, joined the Army in 2005. He was the married father of four children from Boynton Beach, Florida.
Four weeks after Pres. Donald Trump said ISIS had been defeated and he was ordering the 2,000 troops in Syria to begin packing for home, an ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber’s attack killed four in an explosion in Manbij in northern Syria; two U.S. service members, a Department of Defense civilian and a private contractor, all part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Farmer, Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, and DoD civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri died Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
The incident is under investigation, the DoD said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Farmer Was an Army Green Beret
Born April 27, 1981, Farmer joined the U.S. Army on March 30, 2005. He attended One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2005 followed by the Special Forces Qualification Course. He graduated in 2007 as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant and was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), where he remained throughout his career.
Farmer was selected to attend the Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School, where he earned his commission in 2016. Following graduation, he was selected to serve as an Assistant Detachment Commander.
Farmer served on six overseas combat tours. Twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in October 2007 and January 2009; once in support of Operation New Dawn in August 2010; once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from January 2012; and twice in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in January 2018 and January 2019 until his passing.
Farmer’s military education includes One Station Unit Training, the Basic Airborne Course, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape Course, Special Forces Qualification Course, the Advanced Special Operations Technical Course, the Advanced Leader’s Course, Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School, the Special Forces Warrant Officer Basic Course, and the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course.
Farmer’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon with one campaign star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO medal, Special Forces Tab, Parachutist Badge, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge
2. US Forces Were Reportedly Targeted by the ISIS-Affiliated Suicide Bomber. In Total, Around 20 People Were Killed Including Syrian Citizens, Including Two Young women
An early report from Aleppo Media said the attack occurred near the “Princes Palace restaurant next to the girls ‘ school in the center of Manbij, east of Aleppo.”
The spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, tweeted that “U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria …”
The U.S. Central Command announced the deaths Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 16, hours after the deadly attack saying the dead were killed while “conducting a local engagement.” Three US service members were reported injured.
Initial reports were that there were two U.S. service members killed. Then three, then two plus civilians working for the DoD. Then late Wednesday, according to Reuters, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said 20 were killed in what was described as an ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber’s attack, reported to be the “deadliest on U.S. forces in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015.”
3. Vice President Mike Pence Said That ISIS Has Been Defeated Just Hours After the Deadly Attack
A few hours had passed when Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference ‘One Team, One Mission, One Future’ at the Department of State, announced that ISIS had been “defeated” and its Caliphate has “crumbled.” It was widely reported that Pence was briefed on the ISIS-claimed suicide bombing.
NBC’s Richard Engel reported a “senior Kurdish security official” said U.S. service members were “on foot in the center of the city when they were approached by a suicide bomber, claimed by ISIS.”
That does not explain the presence of a civilian and a contractor.
Other reports state that the attack occurred while U.S. personnel were eating in a restaurant, which may be the Princes Palace, as was reported by Syrian media.
Trump’s exit plan is underway as CNN reported, but his National Security adviser John Bolton told reporters US forces would not be leaving Turkey until there were assurances from Turkey that “its Kurdish allies would not be attacked” given some Kurds are considered terrorists by Turkey, it’s reported.
Meanwhile, Kurds have appealed for assistance in continuing the fight against ISIS.
Kurdish YPG soldiers have controlled Manbij since 2016. US forces were said to have begun patrols in that city in December.
4. When Trump Announced His Pull-Out of Syria, Criticism of that Move Came Quickly & From Political Allies
When Trump announced his plans to remove troops from Syria saying ISIS had been defeated, lawmakers, including Republicans Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio blasted his decision. Wednesday, both spoke out.
Referring to Trump’s tweets, Graham said his “statements set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting – you make people we’re trying to help wonder about us,” Graham said taking a minute to address the attack during the Burr confirmation hearings.
“And I hope the president will look long and hard at where he’s headed in Syria …we’re never going to be safe here if unless we’re willing to help people over there who are willing to stand up to this radical ideology.”
Early Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deferred comment to the Defense Department.
5. Over the Christmas Holiday, Trump Tweeted Habitually About Removing Troops From Syria & These May Have Been the ‘Statements’ to Which Graham Referred
“If anybody but your favorite President, Donald J. Trump, announced that, after decimating ISIS in Syria, we were going to bring our troops back home (happy & healthy), that person would be the most popular hero in America. With me, hit hard instead by the Fake News Media. Crazy!”
“….going to be there for three months, and that was seven years ago – we never left. When I became President, ISIS was going wild. Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!”
Meanwhile, ISIS was taking credit for the terror attack that claimed US lives.
The ISIS propaganda so-called news agency Amaq and similar were reporting the suicide bombing and murder.