U.S. believes Islamic State likely responsible for Manbij blast: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government believes the Islamic State militant group, which claimed Wednesday’s attack in northern Syria that killed four Americans, is likely responsible, although it has not reached a firm conclusion, two U.S. government sources said on Thursday.

The bomb attack killed two U.S. troops and two civilians working for the U.S. military in Manbij, weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said the group had been defeated in Syria and that he would pull out all U.S. forces.

The Manbij attack appeared to be the deadliest on U.S. forces in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015 and it took place in a town controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

If Islamic State did carry out the attack, that would undercut assertions, including by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence several hours after the blast on Wednesday, that the militant group has been defeated.

Experts do not believe Islamic State has been defeated, despite the group having lost almost all of the territory it held in 2014 and 2015 after seizing parts of Syria and Iraq and declaring a “caliphate.”

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