"Omar the Chechen" -- also known as Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili -- was killed in a March 4 U.S. airstrike conducted in Syria. The Islamic State militant had a $5 million bounty on his head. Illustration by Oleg Zabielin/Shutterstock
WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. government confirmed that an Islamic State leader known as "Omar the Chechen" was recently killed, refuting IS claims that the militant is still alive.
Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, also known as Abu Umar al-Shishani, was targeted in a U.S. airstrike conducted March 4. He was a Georgian national based in Syria who held top military positions with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, Daesh and ISIL.
U.S. officials said Batirashvili was injured in the airstrike and subsequently died from his wounds. Authorities did not reveal how they got that information. The Islamic State initially said he was still alive after the airstrike. Batirashvili had a $5 million bounty on his head.
"Batirashvili is a battle-tested leader with experience who had led ISIL fighters in numerous engagements in Iraq and Syria," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement last week. "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."
Batirashvili 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.
The Pentagon said Batirashvili's death would impede the Islamic State's ability to recruit foreign fighters, particularly from Chechnya and the Caucasus, and degrade the militant Islamist organization's ability to coordinate attacks and defense of its strongholds.