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Georgian Kist commander confirmed killed

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 15
The Islamic State (IS) has confirmed that their ethnic Kist commander from Georgiaís Muslim populated Pankisi Gorge, Abu-Omar Al-Shishani, was killed.

The Amaq Agency, the mouthpiece of the Islamic State, stated that Abu Omar al-Shishani, also known as Omar the Chechen, has been killed, four months after the United States reported about his death.

It was thought that he was killed by US airstrikes, according to American media reports.

According to CNN, the Pentagon is trying to verify whether one of their recent attacks killed the terrorist or if he died four months ago as originally stated.

Born in 1986 in Georgia - which was then still part of the Soviet Union - the red-bearded Shishani had a reputation as a top military adviser to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It is not the first time al-Shishan has been reported as being killed, but this is the first time the jihadists have confirmed his death.

The birth name of Shishani was Tarkhan Batirashvili.

A veteran of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Batirashvili became a jihadist after being discharged from the Georgian military, and served in various command positions with Islamist militant groups fighting in the Syrian Civil War.

Batirashvili was previously the leader of the Muhajireen Brigade (Emigrants Brigade), a rebel unit, and its successor, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Supporters).

In May 2013, Batirashvili was appointed as northern commander for IS, with authority over ISís military operations and forces in northern Syria, specifically Aleppo, Ar-Raqqa, Latakia, and northern Idlib Provinces.

By late 2013, he was the IS emir (leader) for northern Syria and was operating in and around the Aleppo Province. He was also in charge of fighters from Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus.

Units under his command participated in major assaults on Syrian military bases in and around Aleppo, including the capture of Menagh Airbase in August 2013.

He was considered "one of the most influential military leaders of the Syrian opposition forces". By mid-2014, Batirashvili was a senior IS commander in Ar-Raqqah, Syria.

The US Treasury Department added Batirashvili to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists on 24 September 2014 and seven months later the US government announced a reward up to US $5 million for information leading to his capture.

American officials reported that Batirashvili died from injuries several days after being the target of a 4 March 2016 US airstrike, near the Al-Shaddadah district in Northern Syria; however, IS denied these claims.