British soldier killed by roadside bomb in northern Syria named as Sergeant Matt Tonroe

A "daring and fearless" British soldier killed by a roadside bomb in northern Syria has been named as Sergeant Matt Tonroe.

The 33-year-old was embedded with US forces during an operation against so-called Islamic State when he was killed by an improvised explosive device on Thursday.

An American solider, Master Sergeant Johnathan J Dunbar, aged 36, from Austin in Texas was also killed in the blast and five others were injured.

Sergeant Tonroe, of the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, was born in Manchester and enlisted in the Army in 2004.

He was deployed numerous times on operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Paying tribute to the soldier, his Commanding Officer said: "Matt Tonroe was a deeply intelligent man and one of life’s characters. He was a caring and considerate soul, a loving and dutiful son, and a friend to many.

"Yet he had a steel core, served his country with pride and was a first class soldier, proven in combat, faced risk willingly and was ever ready for more.

"He thus died as he lived: daring and fearless in duty. We mourn his loss dearly, are proud to have known him and will honour him by continuing this fight.”

The explosion that killed him is reported to have taken place in the town of Manbij, 60 miles north east of Aleppo and close to the border with Turkey. Manbij is under threat of a Turkish military operation.

Ankara says Syrian Kurdish militiamen it views as "terrorists", and an extension of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey, are in control of the town.

The British soldier was embedded with US forces in northern Syria. Credit: ITV News

On completion of his initial training, Sergeant Tonroe joined the 3rd Battalion of The Parachute Regiment in Colchester where he served as part of the Sniper Platoon.

The Ministry of Defence praised his "distinguished service", describing him as a "natural" leader and someone who was "well-liked by all" and will be "sorely missed".

He is survived by his mother Michelle, his brother Alex and girlfriend Olivia.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Sergeant Matt Tonroe at this dreadful time.

"Sergeant Tonroe served his country with great distinction and it is clear from the tributes made by his colleagues that he was not only exceptionally dedicated and courageous but also a gifted and intelligent instructor who was respected by everyone he served with.

"Sergeant Tonroe fought to protect British values, our freedoms and to keep us back at home safe. His sacrifice, unflinching commitment and bravery will never be forgotten.”

Credit: PA

US military spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said he could not immediately say who was behind the attack.

He said: "There is an investigation under way to identify who they could possibly be.

"We have our initial assessment and thoughts on that but we won't provide until the investigation is complete."

Master Sgt Dunbar is the fourth American who has died in Syria since the US began attacking IS militants there in September 2014, according to the Pentagon's Defence Casualty Analysis System.

Earlier on Friday, Col Dillon said an incident involving coalition forces was reported in Manbij but said no more information was available.

Mohammed Abu Adel, head of the Manbij Military Council, an Arab-Kurdish group in the town backed by the US, said the bomb went off near a security headquarters that houses the council just before midnight on Thursday.

The town has seen a number of small explosions, protests and an assassination attempt on a member of the Manbij military council in recent weeks.

Local officials blame Turkey and other adversaries for seeking to sow chaos in the town that was controlled by IS until the summer of 2016.