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Pentagon confirms airstrike targeting ISIS spokesman

Pentagon confirms airstrike targeting ISIS spokesman
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The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday evening that U.S.-led coalition forces targeted Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani in an airstrike on Tuesday. 

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said coalition forces conducted a precision strike near Al-Bab, a Syrian city in the governorate of Aleppo.  

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Although the Pentagon said it was still assessing the results of the airstrike, ISIS earlier in the day released a statement through its news service, Amaq, saying that al-Adnani was killed. 

"Al-Adnani's removal from the battlefield would mark another significant blow to ISIL," Cook said, using another acronym for ISIS. 

The airstrike is the latest in a string of battleground successes for the U.S.-led coalition and partners on the ground in recent months. 

Cook said al-Adnani served as "principal architect" of the group's external operations, and as ISIS's chief spokesman. 

"He has coordinated the movement of ISIL fighters, directly encouraged lone-wolf attacks on civilians and members of the military and actively recruited new ISIL members," he said. 

"The U.S. military will continue to prioritize and relentlessly target ISIL leaders and external plotters in order to defend our homeland, our allies and our partners, while we continue to gather momentum in destroying ISIL's parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and combat its metastases around the world," he said.

A defense official said on background that al-Adnani was much more than a spokesman. 

He was one of ISIS's "most senior leaders," directly involved in recruiting of foreign fighters into the terrorist group, the official said. 
 
"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 café in Bangladesh," the official noted. 
 
"In total, these attacks killed over 1,800 people, and wounded nearly 4,000. Al-Adnani was a legacy AQI member, a Shura council member, and the most publicly recognizable official in ISIL," the official said. 

"If confirmed, this is a very significant blow for ISIL, and will degrade its ability to direct and inspire terror attacks on the West," the official added.