Daesh says top leader Omar Al-Shishani killed in battle

File photo of Omar al-Shishani taken from a militant website in 2014. (AP)
Updated 14 July 2016
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Daesh says top leader Omar Al-Shishani killed in battle

JEDDAH: Top Daesh commander Omar Al-Shishani has been killed, the terrorist group announced on Wednesday.
Aamaq News Agency, media wing of the jihadist group, said in a statement posted on its site that the 30-year-old jihadist was killed in battle in the Iraqi city of Sharqat.
Al-Shishani was “martyred” in the town of Al-Sharqat, near Mosul, while helping to “halt the military campaign” against the Daesh-held city, Aamaq said.
Daesh supporters published eulogies to Al-Shishani on social media and messaging networks.
In March, US and Iraqi officials, as well as Syrian activists, said that Al-Shishani was killed in a US airstrike in Syria, but Aamaq came out with a statement denying the report.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting reports.
Iraqi forces are conducting operations to set the stage for a final push to Mosul, the country’s second city that fell to Daesh in June 2014.
Sharqat lies on the road north to Mosul, but Iraqi forces recently bypassed the area to recapture a key military base in the Qayyarah area farther north that the Pentagon said will be a “springboard” for the push toward the city.
Al-Shishani (meaning, The Chechen) has been identified as Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili from the former Soviet state of Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region, which is populated mainly by ethnic Chechens.
He fought as a Chechen rebel against Russian forces before joining the Georgian military in 2006, and fought Russian forces again in Georgia in 2008.
He was said to have joined Daesh in 2013 and was later named by Daesh “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as commander in northern Syria.
He was ranked among America’s most wanted militants under a US program that offered up to $5 million for information to help remove him from the battlefield.
His exact rank was unclear, but US officials had branded him as “equivalent of the secretary of defense” for the jihadist group.

(Additional input from Agencies)


Turkey says understands NATO concerns over Russian missile deal

Updated 47 min 17 sec ago
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Turkey says understands NATO concerns over Russian missile deal

  • The deal for Russian S-400 missiles riled Washington, prompting US officials to suspend Turkey’s participation in the US-made F-35 jet program
  • Washington says Turkey’s adoption of Russian missile technology alongside US fighter jets would not be compatible within NATO defenses

ISTANBUL: Turkey is “taking into account” NATO concerns over its Russian missile deal, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday, in more conciliatory remarks over a purchase stoking tensions between Washington and Ankara.
The deal for Russian S-400 missiles riled Washington, prompting US officials to suspend Turkey’s participation in the US-made F-35 jet program and warn of more sanctions against its NATO ally.
Washington says Turkey’s adoption of Russian missile technology alongside US fighter jets would not be compatible within NATO defenses, citing security risks.
“We are taking into account NATO’s concerns. It is not right to say Turkey is not considering them,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara.
His remarks followed a visit by Turkey’s defense minister to Washington and a meeting between US President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law at the White House, where they discussed the S-400 deal, local media reported.
“We don’t find credible the concerns that the S-400 system will allow access to the F-35 technology if they are deployed in Turkey,” the minister said.
He said Ankara was still waiting for a US response to Turkey’s proposal to set up a working group between them to work out differences over the Russian deal.
The S-400 purchase is one dispute fueling tensions between the two nations, who are also at odds over US support for Syrian Kurdish militias who Ankara brands a terrorist group and Turkish backing for US foe Venezuela.
This month, after repeated warnings, the United States said Turkey’s decision to buy the S-400 system was incompatible with it remaining part of the emblematic F-35 jet program.
Turkey had planned to buy 100 F-35A fighter jets, with pilots already training in the United States.
With Turkey in recession for the first time in a decade after a currency crisis last year, analysts say Ankara may look to avoid imposition of new US sanctions that would further damage the economy.
Last year, a trade dispute with the US prompted Washington to impose sanctions and tariffs on some Turkish goods, knocking around 30 percent off the value of the local lira currency.
Local Turkish media have reported Turkey may be considering options to ease tensions, such as the non-activation of the S-400 after delivery to Turkey, or the transfer of Russian missiles to a third country.