Daesh has been defeated in Syria, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday, hours after American soldiers were killed in a northern Syria bomb attack claimed by the militant group, says Reuters.
Pence did not mention the deaths in an address to 184 chiefs of US diplomatic missions gathered in Washington from around the world for a speech that sounded more like a campaign rally than a strategic overview of US foreign policy.
Pence told the US ambassadors and other senior American diplomats, referring to Daesh:
The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS [Daesh] has been defeated.
Earlier, a spokeswoman for Pence’s office, Alyssa Farah, said the vice president had been briefed about the soldiers’ deaths and expressed his sympathy.
There were mixed reports about how many Americans died in the blast in the northern Syria town of Manbij, with one US official saying four were killed while others said two had died.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said 20 people were killed, including five US troops.
A US official who declined to be named said four US troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast, which a Daesh-affiliated site said was the work of a suicide bomber. A war monitor said 19 people in total had died in the blast
The attack comes nearly a month after US President Donald Trump’s surprise December 19 announcement that he would withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria after concluding that Islamic State had been defeated there. His decision led to the resignation of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who cited policy differences with the president for his leaving.