Why there's "nothing to suggest" Russia killed ISIS leader

ISIS leader's reported death
ISIS leader's reported death 03:08

The U.S. is rejecting Russia’s claims of responsibility for the death of one of ISIS’s most powerful figures, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

Russia said Wednesday it killed al-Adnani along with 40 other militants in a strike in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo. One U.S. official reportedly called the claim “a joke.”

According to CBS News senior national security analyst FranTownsend, “the facts we know and frankly what we’ve seen from Russia’s involvement in Syria” goes against the claim.

ISIS loses leader 04:01

“There’s nothing to suggest that they would’ve had the tactical intelligence required to conduct a precision strike against an ISIS leader because that’s not been their priority or the focus of their attention,” Townsend told “CBS This Morning” Thursday.

Townsend blasted Russia for spending “their time, ammunition and military might going after civilians and supporting the Assad regime.” Among the United States’ many disagreements​ with Russia, Townsend said the different goals in Syria was most significant, especially “in terms of our own domestic security.”

“They’re unwilling to coordinate or cooperate with us,” Townsend said. “The U.S. has made clear that we do not support the Assad regime, and Russia has.”  

Meanwhile, American officials are trying to confirm that al-Adnani was killed in a precision air strike carried out by coalition forces, which Townsend said suggests that U.S. intelligence in fighting the terror group is “good and it’s getting better.”

Townsend also called al-Adnani’s death only a “temporary win” in the fight against ISIS. He was believed to have a powerful influence on attacks carried out abroad – including those in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere causing some 4,000 injuries and 1,800 deaths in Western Europe​, and inspiring the San Bernardino​ and Orlando attacks​ in the United States. Al-Adnani was also a propaganda chief and a trusted lieutenant of the group’s top leader.

“We found when we were battling Al Qaeda that number three position, the director of external operations, at least temporarily disrupts their ability to conduct those kinds of attacks,” Townsend said. “Remember, they’ll push somebody else up into that position, which your hope is, over time if you keep targeting that person, [they become] less experienced and less competent over time.”