US-led coalition says American soldiers killed in Syria after blast in Kurdish-held Manbij (VIDEOS)
Two members of the US military, as well as a civilian and a contractor, were killed in the attack, while three more US service members were hurt, US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed on Wednesday.
The blast happened near a restaurant and market. Preliminary reports said at least six people were killed and 19 others injured by the explosion.
Footage from Manbij obtained by RT’s video agency Ruptly shows emergency vehicles and several US troops, presumably responding to the blast.
Ruptly’s 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.
The US-led coalition has confirmed in a tweet that “US service members were killed during an explosion” during what it called a “routine patrol in Syria.” It did not immediately offer details on the number of casualties.
U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time.— OIR Spokesperson (@OIRSpox) January 16, 2019
Four US soldiers were killed and three were injured, Reuters reported citing an unnamed American official.
Al Jazeera sources earlier said the death toll includes two US soldiers, one Kurdish fighter, and six civilians. Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak said five Americans were killed by the explosion. Another unconfirmed report said the target was a restaurant where US, French and Kurdish troops were meeting to discuss security arrangements for the city.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) mouthpiece Al-Amaq said the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
A graphic video surveillance footage of the blast has been shared on social media, showing a group of people near the restaurant and passersby consumed by a huge fiery blast. It appears to confirm the attack was a work of a suicide bomber.
WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
Meanwhile, a helicopter apparently sent to the area by the US military was filmed by bystanders.
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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