White House says has no evidence Russia killed Islamic State's Adnani

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - The White House does not have evidence suggesting Russia was involved in an air strike that killed Islamic State leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The United States and its coalition partners carried out a strike on Tuesday against Adnani, one of the last living senior members of the Islamic State militant group.

Moscow has claimed that Russian airstrikes in Syria on Tuesday had killed Adnani, who served as a spokesman for Islamic State.

“I am not aware of any facts that would substantiate a claim like that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One.

Earnest said Adnani “has been a leading proponent of a strategy that encourages individuals to carry out lone wolf attacks around the world,” and that he played an active role in recruiting support for Islamic State.

Separately, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters that historically Russia had not devoted “much, if any effort” to targeting Islamic State’s leadership and had not used precision weaponry regularly.

“If that’s changing, that would be a good thing, but again we have no information at this time to support the claim that they also conducted a strike,” Cook said during a regular briefing at the Pentagon.

Islamic State said on Tuesday that Adnani was killed in an air strike in Aleppo province.

Earlier on Wednesday, a U.S. defense official told Reuters that Russia’s claim was a “joke.”

Reporting by Roberta Rampton,Timothy Gardner and Idrees Ali; Editing by David Gregorio