The Pentagon says it has confirmed a U.S. airstrike last month killed Islamic State's spokesman and chief strategist.
In a statement Monday, Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said the deadly August 30 strike against Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani near Al Bab, Syria was one of several that have hurt the militant group's ability to operate.
The Pentagon had said shortly after the attack that the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against Islamic State had targeted Adnani, but that it was not able at that point to confirm he was dead.
The day after the airstrike, Russia said that its forces had carried out the strike, which a senior defense official told VOA was an "attempt at disinformation."
A U.S. defense official said Adnani was directly involved in recruiting foreign fighters and also directed Islamic State's major attacks outside of its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
"Significant operations carried out on his watch include the Paris attacks, the Brussels airport attack, the Istanbul airport attack, the downing of the Russian airliner in the Sinai, the suicide bombings during a rally in Ankara, and the attack on a cafe in Bangladesh," the official said. "In total, these attacks killed over 1,800 people and wounded nearly 4,000."
Adnani was reported to have been seriously injured eight months ago in Iraq, during fighting near the city of Haditha. He was born in Syria about 39 years ago and was a prominent member of the al-Qaida terror network before aligning himself with Islamic State, where he was considered second in rank to the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Adnani narrated an infamous statement from Islamic State nearly two years ago calling on Muslims living in the West to strike out wherever and however they could.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” Adnani said in the recording.
The United Nations, which had Adnani on its list of suspected terrorists subject to financial sanctions, has described him as the leader of Islamic State in Syria and chief of its external operations.
The U.S. State Department had also offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Adnani's capture.