Dead Chechen ISIS leader Omar al-Shishani.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Islamic State (ISIS) has confirmed reports from March that Omar al-Shishani (the Chechen) one of its top military commanders has been killed. However they claim, contrary to the original reports, he was killed this week fighting south of Mosul in Iraq – not in Syria months ago.
On Wednesday the ISIS mouthpiece media outlet, Amaq, reported that Shishani was “martyred” fighting in the Iraqi city of Shirqat, just south of Mosul.
This directly contradicts reports by the high-level US officials and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group who both said he had been mortally wounded by an American airstrike in Syria and died a few days later.
The Pentagon, at the time confirmed these reports. Now they are neither confirming or denying ISIS’s latest claim that Shishani has just been killed in Iraq.
Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory told Reuters that ISIS likely stalled announcing the death in order to organize Shishani’s successor, saying he “confirmed from the doctor who went to see him,” that he did indeed die last March.
ISIS denied the reports at the time but did not produce any evidence to prove Shishani was still alive.
Shishani, whose real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili, was originally from Georgia.
The US, believing Shishani was ISIS’s most senior military commander – the groups “minister of war”, who ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi relied on as his main military advisor – had placed a $5 million bounty on the militant’s head.
Shishani had previously fought the Russian Army in Chechnya.