Airstrike Targeted ISIS Leader

The US targeted a top ISIS leader known as “Omar the Chechen” in a March 4 airstrike in Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a written statement. Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, or Abu Umar al-Shishani, a Syrian-based Georgian national, is an ISIS senior commander and had been identified in a public video distributed by the terrorist organization, Cook said. He had been sent to al Shaddadi, Syria, to “bolster ISIL fighters” after a series of strategic defeats by US-supported local forces, Cook said. “His potential removal from the battlefield would negatively impact ISIL’s ability to recruit foreign fighters—especially those from Chechnya and the Caucasus regions—and degrade ISIL’s ability to coordinate attacks and defense of its strongholds,” Cook said. However, Cook said, the Pentagon is “still assessing the results” of the operation.