US soldiers dead in IS suicide bombing in Manbij
A number of American soldiers were killed after an Islamic State group suicide bomber targeted a US convoy in the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday.
Operation Inherent Resolve (OIC) - which has been fighting IS in Syria and Iraq - confirmed that personnel had killed in the bombing.
At least nine civilians and five US-backed fighters were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while an American official told Reuters that four American troops also lost their lives in the attack.
"US 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," the OIC spokesperson said on Twitter.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack and named the suspected bomber.
"Suicide attacker Abu Yassin al-Shami wearing an explosive vest set off towards a patrol including members of the Crusader coalition and the PKK apostates near the Palace of Princes restaurant in the city of Manbij," a statement posted on IS-affiliated media said.
Turkey accuses the Syrian-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) – which is active in Manbij - of being a front for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is at war with Ankara.
Earlier in the day, IS issued a statement on Amaq claiming responsibility for the attack.
The New Arab tried to contact the US defence department but have been unable to get a response.
The blast hit the downtown area of Manbij on Wednesday afternoon with reports saying the attacker targeted either an American convoy or meeting of US-led OIC officials at a restaurant.
A video of the incident showed a blast amid a crowd of people gathered outside a restaurant in the city, which is controlled by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces militia coalition.
Video also showed a suspected American helicopter shuttling victims away from the scene.
Manbij has a strong presence of foreign troops - including American, Russian and French soldiers - while the Syrian regime and Turkish militaries are also positioned close by.
The attack comes after December's announcement by President Donald Trump that the US would be withdrawing from Syria, with Turkey expected to move into SDF-held towns and cities such as Manbij.
The Islamic State group are holed up in a small strip on territory in eastern Syria, but have continued to carry out bomb attacks through sleeper cells.
US military experts have pleaded with Trump not to pull American troops from Syria, due to the continued threat posed by IS.