Russia slams U.S. for ‘ignorance’ over Islamic State spokesman death

MOSCOW, Sept. 2 (UPI) — The Russian Ministry of Defense on Friday took offense to comments a U.S. military official made earlier in the week, calling it “a joke” that Russia is claiming responsibility for killing the Islamic State‘s spokesman.

The Islamic State — also identified as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS — announced the death of its spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani on Tuesday. Since then, Russia and the United States have each taken responsibility for the airstrike that killed him in Syria’s Aleppo province.

Al-Adnani was one of up to 40 IS members killed by a Russian bomber, the Russian ministry said Wednesday. But the Pentagon said a “precision strike” by U.S.-led coalition forces killed al-Adnani in Al-Bab, a town near the city of Aleppo.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook responded to the Russian assertion with doubt.

“We have no information to support Russia’s claim that they carried out a strike against Adnani,” Cook said. “From the start, Russia has spent most of its time in its military campaign propping up the Assad regime. It has not devoted much, if any, effort targeting ISIL’s leadership. At the same time, we have not seen the Russian military campaign use precision weaponry on a regular basis. I’m not going to wager a guess as to why they might have a motive to engage in this and to discuss this, and maybe it’s just a misunderstanding on their part. I know what ISIL itself has said. I know what the Russians have said. We don’t trust — we are not going to be satisfied simply to trust ISIL and the Russians on this.”

Russia’s Ministry of Defense responded on Friday, taking particular issue with comments made by an anonymous Pentagon official who called Russia’s claim of responsibility “a joke.”

“Unlike the U.S.-led ‘anti-ISIS coalition’ consisting of over 60 countries, the Russian Aerospace Forces effectively eliminate all terrorist without unreasonable hunt for separate individuals,” the ministry said in a Facebook post. “It is to be noted that the main goal of the strike carried out by the Russian Aerospace Forces on August 30 was not Abu Mohammad al-Adnani but the grouping of 40 ISIS militants.

“It is not a surprise that the Pentagon has no information concerning the strike of the Russian Aerospace Forces on August 30. For a year, U.S. representatives almost every day have been claiming that in any case they do not coordinate their military operations in Syria with Russia. Gentlemen, so how can you get the data?

“That is why the anonymous claims according to which the elimination of Abu Mohammad al-Adnani is a ‘joke’ is the sole thing they can say to justify their unawareness,” the post, translated into English by the ministry, concluded.



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