- Al-Adnani among 40 militants struck by bomber, Russia says
- Pentagon says it’s seen no information backing Russia’s claim
Russia said it killed one of Islamic State’s most senior figures, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, after the Pentagon said that U.S.-led coalition forces carried out a “precision strike” against him.
A Russian SU-34 bomber “destroyed” at least 40 Islamic State members in Aleppo province on Tuesday, including al-Adnani, the Defense Ministry said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.
The statement was issued after Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said on Tuesday that al-Adnani was targeted that day near al Bab in Syria, northeast of Aleppo. “We are still assessing the results of the strike, but al-Adnani’s removal from the battlefield would mark another significant blow to ISIL,” Cook said in a statement, using an acronym for the group. “Al-Adnani has served as principal architect of ISIL’s external operations and as ISIL’s chief spokesman.”
Asked about Russia’s assertion, Cook told reporters Wednesday, “We have no information to support Russia’s claim that they also carried out a strike against Adnani. And I would just note that from the start, Russia, as you know, has spent most of its time, its military campaign, supporting and propping up the Assad regime. ”
Al-Adnani, who was the terrorist group’s chief spokesman in Syria, had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head. He was killed while surveying defenses near the northern city of Aleppo, Islamic State’s Amaq news service reported.
Officials in Moscow and Washington have been seeking unsuccessfully to strike a deal on coordinated strikes against terrorists in Syria, where Russian and U.S.-led forces are carrying out separate bombing campaigns. Russia, which is accused by the U.S. and its allies of focusing its air strikes in Syria on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad rather than Islamic State, has urged the West repeatedly to join it in a coalition to fight the terrorists.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow said information from several intelligence sources showed that al-Adnani was among the militants killed by the Russian strike near the village of Ma’arat Umm Hawsh, north of Aleppo.
The Islamic State propagandist was the number two figure in the radical Islamic organization after its leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi and was known for his calls for terrorist attacks in western Europe and the U.S., the ministry said.