Vice President Mike Pence declared the Islamic State “defeated” in remarks at the State Department Wednesday delivered just hours after the terror group claimed credit for a deadly suicide bombing that killed several U.S. service members.
“The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated,” Pence said during an address to the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference at the State Department.
Vice President Pence now: “Thx to the leadership of this CIC and the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces we’re now actually able to begin to hand off the fight against ISIS in Syria…We are bringing our troops home. The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated." pic.twitter.com/mQH0c1GSu1
— Alan He (@alanhe) January 16, 2019
Pence celebrated victory over ISIS hours after a coalition spokesman confirmed reports that an unspecified number of American troops were killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday while patrolling the northern Syrian city of Manbij. Reuters, citing a U.S. official, reported that four U.S. troops were killed and at least four others were injured in the blast.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on its official propaganda website, Amaq.
Pence did not mention the attack during his remarks at the State Department but his spokeswoman confirmed before his address that he was aware it had occurred. He did, however, vow that U.S. troops would remain in the region to to“insure that ISIS does not rear its ugly head again.”
Reached for comment, Pence’s spokeswoman provided a statement condemning the suicide bombing and reiterating that the ISIS caliphate has been “crushed.”
“President Trump and I condemn the terrorist attack in Syria that claimed American lives and our hearts are with the loved ones of the fallen. We honor their memory and we will never forget their service and sacrifice,” the statement reads. “Thanks to the courage of our Armed Forces, we have crushed the ISIS caliphate and devastated its capabilities. As we begin to bring our troops home, the American people can be assured, for the sake of our soldiers, their families, and our nation, we will never allow the remnants of ISIS to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate – not now, not ever.”
The bombing marked the first time ISIS had taken credit for an attack on coalition forces since President Trump announced the immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria after a call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month.
The loss of American life at the hands of ISIS will likely bolster critics of the U.S. troop withdrawal, who have pointed out that while the group’s territorial holdings have been eroded, roughly 30,000 of its fighters remain in the region.