January 7, 2016 / 7:50 PM / 4 years ago

Iraq military says ISIS spokesman Adnani wounded: state TV

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has reportedly been wounded in an air strike in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, a military statement said on Thursday.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

“There are confirmed reports that the so-called terrorist Abu Muhammad al-Adnani the spokesman of the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists was wounded in an air strike ... in the region of Barwana,” the military statement said.

Adnani lost “a large amount of blood” in the attack a few days ago, before being moved to the northern city of Mosul, Islamic State’s capital in Iraq, the statement added.

More than 100 Islamic State fighters were killed in and around Barwana this week by air strikes aimed at helping the Iraqi army repel militant offensives near the city of Haditha, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

Adnani is a Syrian from Idlib who pledged allegiance to Islamic State’s predecessor al Qaeda more than a decade ago and was once imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq, according to the Brookings Institution.

Adanani has been the chief propagandist for the hardline jihadist group since he declared in a June 2014 statement that it was establishing a modern-day caliphate spanning large swaths of territory it had seized in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

William McCants, a Brookings scholar who is author of the book “The ISIS Apocalypse,” said if true, Adnani’s wounding could be a significant setback for Islamic State.

“If he’s incapacitated, Baghdadi has lost a very trusted adviser,” he said by phone, referring to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “His name has been floated as a possible successor... and he’s an effective propagandist.”

U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for the coalition bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, could not confirm the Iraqi military report but said Adnani had not been targeted by a coalition air strike.

Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Andrew Roche and Cynthia Osterman

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