US: Strike Killed ISIS 'Minister of War'
Omar the Chechen was 'battle-tested' leader, Pentagon says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2016 1:02 AM CST
Abu Omar al-Shishani stands amid ISIS fighters in 2014 as they declare the elimination of the border between Iraq and Syria.   (AP Photo/militant social media account via AP video)
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(Newser) – ISIS honcho Omar the Chechen—also known as Abu Omar al-Shishani and Tarkhan Batirashvili—was almost certainly killed alongside a dozen fighters in an American airstrike in Syria last week, US officials say. The Georgian national, whose red beard and willingness to appear in videos made him one of the group's most recognized spokesmen, held titles including "Minister of War" and was high on the anti-ISIS coalition's hit list, NBC News reports. Pentagon officials describe al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen who grew up in Georgia's notoriously militant-heavy Pankisi Gorge region, as a "battle-tested leader" whose death will damage the ability of ISIS to recruit Chechens and other foreign fighters, the AP reports. (US troops captured a "significant" ISIS operative in Iraq last week.)