(Reuters) – An American naval service and a former Navy SEAL are among the four Americans killed in a suicide bombing this week in northern Syria, which the United States believes is probably done by Islamic state, US officials said Friday.
Chieftain's chief lawyer Jonathan Farmer, 37, from Boynton Beach, Florida; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, and Scott Wirtz, a Civil Defense Minister of St. Louis, died on Wednesday attack in Manbij, Syria, said the Ministry of Defense in a statement.
The Pentagon did not identify the fourth killed, a contractor working for a private company.
The Manbij attack on the American forces in Syria seemed to be the deadliest since deployed on Earth there in 2015. It took place in a city controlled by a military ally with US-backed Kurdish forces.
Kent joined the Navy in 2003, and in his years of service he received nearly a dozen honors, including the National Defense Service Medal and two Joint Service Commanding Medals, marine officials said in a statement.
Wirtz, a Navy SEAL for 10 years, had been employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency since 2017 and carried out three deployments to the Middle East Agency, the agency said.
Army officials did not respond promptly to requests for more details on Farmer.
Two US government sources told Reuters on Thursday that the United States sees the Islamic state's militant group as likely responsible for the attack. Islamic state has assumed responsibility.
The attack occurred almost a month after President Donald Trump had confused his own national security team with a surprise on December 19 to drag all 2,000 US troops from Syria and declared that the Islamic state had been defeated there.
If the Islamic state carried out the attack, it would suppress the allegations, including US Vice President Mike Pence several hours after the blast on Wednesday, that the militant group has been defeated.
Experts do not believe that Islamic state has been beaten, even though it has lost almost the entire territory it held in 2014 and 2015, after seizing parts of Syria and Iraq and declaring a "caliphate".
While the group's footprint has fallen, experts say it is far from a used force and still can cause guerrilla-style attacks. An Islamic state statement on Wednesday said a Syrian suicide bomber had detonated its explosive west in Manbij.
(Reporting of Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing of Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)