The Pentagon has confirmed that senior ISIS commander Abu Omar al-Shishani was not killed, but rather attended a meeting on July 10.

The March airstrike was highlighted by the U.S. as a success in the ongoing civil war in Iraq and Syria. Arguably, ISIS had announced that Omar the Chechen was indeed dead.

Abu Omar al-Shishani at an unknown location in Syria. Image courtesy of AFP/Getty/The Independent

Omar the Chechen has been named as one of the main commandants able to be compared to ISIS’ supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was once referred to as the Islamic State‘s ‘minister of war’.

Omar the Chechen, ISIS commander.

Abu Omar al-Shishani was born from his Muslim Kist mother in Georgia 1986, under the name Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili. He was exposed at an early age to the influence of Georgian rebels amid the Second Chechen War, where he assisted rebels entering Russia. According to his father, Teimuraz Batirashvili, Omar as a teenager, even participated in some missions.

Al-Shishani has been trained to specifically counter the counter-terrorism measures of the U.S, as he had fought in Chechnya as a rebel before he got enlisted in Georgia’s military to wage war against Russia. He is known to be a commander that relies on very few men to capture territories. He was arrested in 2010 and fled to Syria in 2012, where he joined the Islamic State and pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi. He was successfully identified in a video published by ISIS in 2014.

The elimination of al-Shishani would be of a tremendous harm for ISIS’ strategic abilities, including the allegiance of their troops, as Omar the Chechen has earned the following of thousands of Chechnyan fighters.

Did he die in the March airstrikes?

According to the Pentagon, 13 ISIS fighters were targeted in the March airstrike. The mistaken report was elaborated by a human rights group, who asserted that Omar the Chechen was killed in the attack. The ISIS commander has been reported dead a total of nine times, he is one of the most critical authorities in the group as he holds control over Shirqat, the strategic landmark that would allow ground troops to enter Mosul. Mosul is one of the most important cities held by the Islamic State, besides Raqqa.

The city of Shirqat is almost a hundred miles south of Mosul. The U.S. and Iraqi military have started to lay siege to the area to go and seize nearby key structures, such as the Qayyarah airbase, located 21 miles away from Shirqat.

On the other hand, according to The Guardian, Rami Abdelrahman, president of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, al-Shishani had been severely wounded in March, until he died in the following days in the proximity of Raqqa. Reportedly, Abdelrahman had contacted the doctor who attended al-Shishani. He also claimed that ISIS delayed the announcement of his death to make time and find a suitable successor.

The U.S. State Department has put a price on Abu Omar al-Shishani’s head, rewarding anyone who provides information leading to his capture or killing with up to $5 million, as there is no certainty as to whether the Chechnyan commander has been taken down for good.

Source: The Guardian