Top IS Leader Likely Killed by US Airstrike

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Damascus: Abu Omar al- Shishani, one of the Islamic State’s top commanders, may have been killed in a US-led air strike in Syria.

Red-bearded Al-Shishani, a senior aide to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was likely killed in a bombing last Friday near the southern town of al-Shaddadi, which American-backed forces from the Syrian Arab Coalition seized from the  IS last month, reports the New York Post.

Al-Shishani, who was based in Raqqa, was recently sent to al-Shaddadi to give a boost to the group’s soldiers after a series of defeats to local forces supported by the US coalition, the Pentagon said.

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In a statement released by Pentagon yesterday, it said that Al-Shishani is a battle-tested leader with experience who had led ISIL [ISIS] fighters in numerous engagements in Iraq and Syria.

The statement further said that 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 like Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.

The Pentagon also confirmed that al-Shishani was specifically targeted in the strike. US official however did not confirm his death.

“We don’t have any hard evidence showing he’s been killed. We’re still assessing the situation,” one official told The Post reported New York Post.

Al-Shishani, also known as ISIS’s minister of war, was considered one of the most-wanted terrorists by the US reward program, which put a $5 million price on his head.