World

WASHINGTON (Web Desk) – The Islamic State group’s minister of war Georgian-born Abu Omar al-Shishani is thought to have been killed in an air raid in Syria.

US officials say, the target of the March 4 attack was Omar al-Shishani, a red-bearded Georgian fighting with the militant group in Syria.

According to a Department of Defense press release, the US military is still assessing the results of the strike, without providing further details. The statement added that at the time of the strike, al-Shishani had been sent to al-Shaddadi to bolster IS militants demoralized after a series of defeats by local US-backed forces near the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Al-Shishani is ranked among America’s most wanted terrorists under a US program which offered up to $5 million for information to help take him out, media report says.

The Department of Defense statement described al-Shishani as IS’s “minister of war.” It added that his potential killing would have a negative impact on the ability of IS to recruit foreign militants, particularly those from Chechnya and the Caucasus. His alleged death also means that the terror group would be stripped of the ability to coordinate attacks and defend its strongholds in Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.

Al-Shishani – real name Tarkhan Batirashvili – was born to a Georgian-Chechen family in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia.

Before becoming known to the West as one of the bloodiest jihadist commanders, he lived a quiet life in the tiny village of Birkiani and worked as a shepherd. In 2007, he joined the Georgian Army and quickly progressed through the ranks. Several media reports say he was in a special reconnaissance group and stood out due to his proficiency with firearms and maps.