NEW YORK. — A top Islamic State group commander known as Omar the Chechen has died after being injured in a US-led coalition strike in north-eastern Syria, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday.
The announcement would appear to clear up the fate of the notorious Omar al-Shishani a week after a US official said the most-wanted militant had been targeted in a March 4 attack on the jihadist’s convoy.
“We believe he subsequently died of his injuries,” Navy Capt Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told AFP.
On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said Shishani had been “clinically dead” for several days.
Shishani, the nom de guerre of Tarkhan Batirashvili, was one of the ISIS leaders most wanted by Washington, which put a $5 million bounty on his head.
He comes from the Pankisi Gorge, a mainly ethnic Chechen region of the former Soviet state of Georgia.
As early as May 2013, when Isis was just emerging in Syria, he was appointed the group’s military commander for the north of the country.
While Shishani’s exact rank was unclear, Richard Barrett of the US-based Soufan Group has described him as Isis’s “most senior military commander”, adding that he had been in charge of key battles.
Shishani is not, however, a member of ISIS’s political leadership, a structure that is even murkier than its military command. — The Guardian.