Undated photo of Abu Omar

Undated photo of Abu Omar

TBILISI, DFWatch–The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced that according to its sources military commander of the Islamic State, Tarkhan Batirashvili, was seriously injured in an American airstrike on 4 March, yet not killed, Reuters reported.

SOHR’s director Rami Abdurrahman reportedly said that Mr Batirashvili was taken from al-Hasakah province to a hospital in ar-Raqqa province where he was treated by ‘a jihadist doctor of European origin’. Ar-Raqqa is considered as the capital of the Islamic State in Syria.

SOHR is an UK–based information office, which reports on Syrian Civil War from inside the war-torn country relying on the network of informants, and its news and information is widely used by major Western media outlets.

The news of ‘likely’ death of Mr Batirashvili, better known under his nom de guerre Abu Omar ash-Shishani, was reported by major international news outlets, including Reuters and CNN. It was reported that he was killed during an American special operation in the town of ash-Shaddadi in north-eastern Syria last Friday.

Mr Batirashvili was born in the village of Birkiani in Pankisi valley, which is populated by a majority of Chechen-speaking Kists.

Soon after the initial news broke, imam of Pankisi’s valley, Omar Aldamov told Georgian public broadcaster First Channel that Mr Batirashvili hadn’t contacted his family members for several months and that even his father didn’t know about his son’s whereabouts. No-one in the valley was able to confirm the reports made by Western media.

The Ministry of Defence of Georgia was unable to confirm the information either.

Mr Batirashvili is ranked among the most wanted militants and is the subject of a reward of up to 5 million dollars for information leading to his apprehension.

The alleged death or capture of Mr Batirashvili was reported three times in 2015 and at least five times in 2014, but it was never confirmed.