Who is Omar al-Shishani? Four things to know

Published March 9th, 2016 - 02:07 GMT
Reported as injured—or perhaps killed—in a recent US strike, al-Shishani is an important leader in Daesh. (AFP/File)
Reported as injured—or perhaps killed—in a recent US strike, al-Shishani is an important leader in Daesh. (AFP/File)

The US military has announced that Omar al-Shishani was targeted in a recent strike in Syria. The Georgian is known to be one of the highest commanders in Daesh’s military ranks, meaning that neutralizing him would be a major step forward in the fight against the extremist group.

Here are four key things to know about al-Shishani.

1. Omar al-Shishani’s real name is Tarkhan Batirashvili. He is a veteran of the Georgia-Russia war of 2008, however was discharged from the Georgian military in 2010. He was reportedly imprisoned for illegally harbouring weapons, and was released after serving 16 months. Upon his release, he reportedly fled the country.

2. He was the leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jaysh al-Muhajirin wa al-Ansar group in Syria, which was mostly made up of foreign fighters. During this time, the group was involved in some key battles in the conflict, including overrunning important Syria military bases in Aleppo.

3. In mid-2013, he joined Daesh and was appointed to the head of the group’s operations in the North of Syria. He is thought to have overseen a Daesh prison near Raqqa, which may have held foreign hostages.

4. On Friday, the US targeted al-Shishani in a strike in the north-eastern town of Shaddadi. While there have been no confirmed reports of his death, some have said that he was likely killed. Social media accounts apparently reporting from the area have said that he was seriously injured.


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