Omar al-Shishani, a top commander of the so-called Islamic State (IS) has been killed in combat in Iraq, a website affiliated with the militant group has confirmed.
The Amaq website quoted a military source as saying al-Shishani was killed “in the town of Sharqat as he took part in repelling the military campaign on the city of Mosul”.
The IS-affiliated website however did not indicate when al-Shishani was killed.
His death may come as a blow to the militant group which has experienced a string of setbacks this year.
The group took control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, but has recently lost ground.
Iraqi troops are now advancing towards Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country.
Described by the Pentagon as the Islamic State’s ‘minister of war’ Omar al-Shishani was a fierce fighter with Georgian roots who was one of the most wanted ISIL leader by Washington with a multi-million dollar bounty on his head.
al-Shishani whose real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili came from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region and was born to a Christian father and Muslim mother.
He fought as a Chechen rebel against Russian forces before joining the Georgian military in 2006, and battled Russians again in Georgia in 2008.
He later resurfaced in northern Syria as the commander of a group of foreign fighters, and became a senior leader within IS.
His exact rank was unclear, but US officials had branded him as “equivalent of the secretary of defence” for IS.