Islamic State war minister 'Omar the Chechen' likely killed in U.S. airstrike

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  March 9, 2016 at 9:31 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, March 9 (UPI) -- The Department of Defense revealed a recent U.S. airstrike possibly killed an Islamic State war minister known as "Omar the Chechen" who had a $5 million bounty on his head.

Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, also known as Abu Umar al-Shishani, was targeted in the airstrike conducted on Friday. He is a Georgian national based in Syria who held top military positions with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, Daesh and ISIL.

"Batirashvili is a battle-tested leader with experience who had led ISIL fighters in numerous engagements in Iraq and Syria," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement Tuesday. "His potential removal from the battlefield would negatively impact ISIL's ability to recruit foreign fighters -- especially those from Chechnya and the Caucus regions -- and degrade ISIL's ability to coordinate attacks and defense of its strongholds like Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq."

He was a member of the Sharia Council in the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory.

A cease-fire recently implemented between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and a rebel group coalition does not include the Islamic State.

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