Casualties as blast in Manbij, Syria reportedly occurs near US-led coalition patrol

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Casualties as blast in Manbij, Syria reportedly occurs near US-led coalition patrol

A powerful blast has hit the northern Syrian city of Manbij, which was recently threatened by Turkey over its Kurdish control. Several people were killed, with local sources claiming Kurdish-allied US soldiers were among the dead.

The blast happened near a restaurant and market. Preliminary reports say at least six people were killed and 19 others injured by the explosion. Various sources on the ground claim that between two and five US soldiers are among the casualties, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Photos and footage purportedly taken at the scene show a damaged building with broken windows and what appear to be blood stains on a column and several damaged cars.

Al Jazeera sources said the death toll includes two US soldiers, one Kurdish fighter, and six civilians. They reported that the blast had apparently targeted a US patrol. Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak said five Americans were killed by the explosion.

Meanwhile, a helicopter apparently sent to the area by the US military was filmed by bystanders.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) mouthpiece Al-Amaq said the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Manbij is a strategically located city, which is at the center of a tense confrontation between the Kurds and Turkey, which considers the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists. Ankara has threatened to launch a military operation to kick them out of the city.

The US, which supported Kurdish militias with arms and training while they were focusing on fighting jihadist forces, is now in the process of withdrawing its troops from Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria. The promised pullout would take time, however, and in practice US soldiers continue missions on the ground.

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