Pentagon confirms death of senior IS military commander

Pentagon confirms death of senior IS military commander
2 min read
15 March, 2016
The Pentagon on Monday confirmed that senior IS military commander Abu Omar al-Shishani was killed in an air raid that targeted his convoy in northeastern Syria on 4 March.
Al-Shishani was targeted by a US airstrike on 4 March [Twitter]

Abu Omar al-Shishani, a top Islamic State group (IS) commander has died after being injured in a US-led coalition strike in northeastern Syria, the Pentagon confirmed Monday.

The announcement would appear to clear up the fate of the notorious Shishani a week after a US official said the most-wanted militant had been targeted in a March 4 attack on the militant'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 IS leaders most wanted by Washington, which put a $5m 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 IS 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 the group's "most senior military commander", adding that he had been in charge of key battles.

Shishani is not, however, a member of IS' political leadership, a structure that is even murkier than its military command.

The lack of a US presence on the ground makes it difficult to assess the success of operations targeting militants in Syria, and Shishani's death had been falsely reported several times.