Middle East

Islamic State commander Omar Shishani dead, says Pentagon

Tarkhan Batirashvili, also known as Omar Shishani, appearing in a video with other militants in Syria (3 July 2014) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The US had offered a $5m (£3.5m) reward for Omar Shishani

A senior commander of so-called Islamic State (IS) is dead, the Pentagon has confirmed.

Defence officials said Omar Shishani died from injuries sustained in a recent US air strike in north-eastern Syria.

Earlier reports had suggested Shishani, a Georgian whose real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili, may have survived the attack on a convoy.

Several of his bodyguards were killed in the same bombing.

The strike took place on 4 March near the north-eastern town of Shaddadi, where Shishani had reportedly been sent to bolster local IS forces.

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed to the BBC that the latest assessment was that "he is dead".

On Sunday, monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the IS leader had been "clinically dead" for several days.

Last year, the US offered a $5m (£3.5m) reward for Shishani.

It said he had held numerous senior military positions within the group, including "minister of war".

Last week, the observatory's director, Rami Abdul Rahman, quoted sources saying that Shishani had been badly wounded and had been taken to a hospital in Raqqa province where he was treated by "a jihadist doctor of European origin".

US officials have said they believe Shishani was sent to the Shaddadi area to reinforce IS militants following a series of military defeats.

Shaddadi was captured last month by the Syrian Arab Coalition, an alliance of Arab rebel groups which joined forces with the Kurdish YPG militia to battle IS.

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