TBILISI, DFWatch–Tarkhan Batirashvili, a.k.a. Abu Omar al-Shishani, a notorious IS field commander from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, was reportedly seized by Kurdish and American commandos in Northern Iraq on Friday.
Abu Omar’s arrest was reported by the Russian news agency TASS and several Kurdish websites but has still not been confirmed by officials.
Abu Omar was reportedly captured in the town of Hawija, about 20 kms from Kirkuk, a Kurdish city near Mosul.
TASS, which relies on the news agency EIN, states that a special operation against IS was carried out by American “spetsnaz”, or special forces. But according to some Kurdish accounts, the operation was carried out by Kurdish commandos backed by American special forces and U.S. helicopters.
Along with Abu Omar, two more IS field commanders were captured during the raid, and seven militiamen were killed. One American soldier was killed during the raid.
According to the media accounts, approximately 100 U.S. special forces troops arrived in Iraq on December 21 to back Kurdish forces in the fight against IS.
U.S. Department of State offers a $5 million reward for any information related to Tarkhan Batirashvili, now known as Omar Al-Shishani, who is designated as a terrorist.
Batirashvili is a citizen of Georgia, an ethnic Kist and hailing from the village Birkiani, in the Pankisi Valley in eastern Georgia.
More than a month ago, media reported Batirashvili’s death, but this was never confirmed.