On Tuesday, U.S. officials confirmed that they had targeted and launched a blistering air assault in Syria to kill Abu Omar al-Shishani, aka Omar the Chechen.
Both manned and unmanned aircraft took to the skies to bombard the town of al-Shadad where Omar was believed to be. According to reports, Omar was traveling in a convoy through the southern al-Hasakah suburbs when the airstrikes hit him in al-Shadad.
It’s believed he was sent there to bulk up the ISIS forces located in the region after setbacks caused by U.S., Arab, and Kurdish forces.
Following the attack, U.S. officials said that the man who serves as the military commander of the the most feared terror organization in the world was ‘likely’ dead. Additionally, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia also said they got similar intel.
Today, this assumption seems less likely. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gets intelligence from both sides of the fight, says that Omar is alive but “critically injured.”
After the airstrikes, Omar was rushed to the Syrian “capital” of Raqqa, Syria for treatment.
Here is some background on this terror leader (referred to his birth name of Batirashvili):
Batirashvili (aka Omar al-Shishani) was raised as a Christian but later converted to Islam.
He was born and grew up in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, considered the epicentre of the country’s fundamentalist problem.
This tiny, remote valley, about 13km long and 3km wide, lies near the Chechen-Georgian border about 160km from the capital Tbilisi. The region is home to more than 100 Georgians who have joined ISIL’s ranks.
Batirashvili served as a non-commissioned officer in the Georgian armed forces and was deployed as a forward observer calling in artillery strikes against Russian soldiers during the Battle of Tskhinvali in the opening days of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.
In 2010, Batirashvili was diagnosed with tuberculosis, discharged from the army, and later jailed on illegal gun charges.
After leaving prison, Batirashvili made his way to Syria.
It was around 2013 he joined ISIS and quickly became a close advisor to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Currently Omar was Commander of all northern forces, containing all Syrian operations.
It’s not yet clear if there are any eyes on Omar’s current whereabouts as Raqqa has been decimated by airstrikes over the past year. We will keep you updated as this story progresses.
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