‘Omar the Chechen,’ ISIS ‘Minister Of War’ Likely Killed In U.S. Airstrike

The Pentagon believes that a top ISIS commander with the title of ‘Minister of War’ was likely killed along with a dozen other ISIS fighters in a U.S. airstrike in northeastern Syria last week.

Omar al-Shishani AKA Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili AKA “Omar the Chechen,” who held the title of Islamic State’s equivalent of Secretary of State for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is believed to be dead after multiple waves of planes and drone aircraft carried out attacks on March 4. A Defense Department official said Shishani was “likely killed.”

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said last Friday’s strike occurred near the Syrian city of al-Shaddadeh, a former ISIS stronghold that was captured in February by the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces and Kurdish YPG fighters. Pentagon officials believe that Omar the Chechen traveled to the al-Shaddadeh area from Raqqa, in what was probably an effort to bolster the sagging morale of ISIS fighters there.

Batirashvili, who was the target of the strike, has a reputation as one of Islamic State’s most capable commanders. There has been a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S. State Department. Shishani is a former member of an elite Georgian military unit. “Batirashvili is a battle-tested leader with experience who had led ISIL fighters in numerous engagements in Iraq and Syria,” Cook said in a statement.

“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,” Cook said.

Batirashvili was an ethnic Chechen from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. He is specifically from the Pankisi Valley, which is a center of Georgia’s Chechen community and once a stronghold for militants.

From CBS News:

Chechen had joined the Georgian military in 2006 and fought against Russian troops in 2008 in the South Ossetia region of Georgia. He was discharged from the Georgian army in 2010 for medical reasons, the defense official said, and in 2012 left Georgia for Istanbul, Turkey. From there he went to Syria and commanded rebel forces against Syrian government forces.

He joined ISIS in 2013, the official said, and at one point oversaw a prison run by the group in al-Tabqa near Raqqa, where ISIS may have held foreign hostages. In May 2013 he was appointed northern commander for ISIS with authority over the group’s military operations and forces in northern Syria.

How many top-ranking commanders does ISIS have? Seems like a high-ranking Islamic State official is killed every week, yet here they are still in business cranking out hatred and doing dastardly deeds.