A news agency closely affiliated with Islamic State has said one of the terror group’s top military commanders has been killed in combat.
In March, the Pentagon had said Omar al Shishani, described as the extremist organisation’s “minister of war”, had likely been killed in a US airstrike in Syria.
Although this is the first time IS appears to have confirmed his death, the Aamaq news agency said the fighter, who was born in Georgia, was “martyred” in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
IS supporters have expressed praise for al Shishani, who had a distinctive ginger beard and was a visible member of the group.
He was also known as Omar the Chechen.
Some social media users have vowed to launch a fresh offensive in his honour.
Islamic State had denied al Shishani’s death in March but failed to provide proof he was still alive.
Observers say this may have been an attempt to allow time for the terror group to appoint his successor.
Born in 1986, al Shishani was a close military adviser to IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi – not least because of his experience fighting as a Chechen rebel against Russian troops.
He was one of America’s most wanted militants before his death, with officials offering a reward of up to $5m for information that would lead to his removal from the battlefield.
The Pentagon says it is aware of the Aamaq agency’s report on al Shishani, but refused to confirm or deny its authenticity.
Iraqi forces are continuing to advance towards Mosul, which is the largest city that remains under IS control.
Source: Sky News