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.
As a US official, cited by Reuters, stated earlier, the explosion claimed the lives of 4 US soldiers, while 3 others were wounded. A military helicopter has allegedly landed near the scene in order to rescue survivors.
Later it was reported that 2 US soldiers died.
Our contributor on the ground said the US military ramped up security inside the city following the attack and put the city hospital, where victims have been transported, on lockdown.
Photos and videos 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.
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.