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Abu Wahib of Islamic State 'killed by strike'

A high-ranking leader of the "Islamic State" group has been killed in a US-led coalition airstrike, the Pentagon says. Abu Wahib, also known as the Desert Lion, had appeared in execution videos.

An air strike launched by a US-led coalition killed a senior Islamic State official and three others in a vehicle near the Iraqi town of Rutba last week, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The death of Abu Wahib, given his senior role in military planning in Iraq's Anbar province, will impede Islamic State's ability to conduct operations, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

"ISIL leadership has been hit hard by coalition efforts and this is another example of that," Cook told reporters, using an alternative acronym for the group. "It is dangerous to be an ISIL leader in Iraq and Syria these days, and for good reason."

Pentagon offers few details

Symbolbild Islamischer Staat und Social Media

This image from a Twitter account taken in 2014 purports to show Abu Wahib handing a flower to a child while visiting southern Iraq, as part of the group's social media campaign

Wahib - reportedly born in Anbar province in 1986 - had appeared in execution videos and was a former member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the US military said. Washington and its allies have been conducting air strikes in Syria and Iraq targeting Islamic State leaders and infrastructure in an effort to defeat the group since 2014.

Iraqi media have in the past year published reports of Wahib's death, though the Pentagon had never confirmed his death before.

Though US-led air strikes have succeeded in assassinating IS figures including key leaders, the group is far from defeated and continues to claim responsibility for attacks across the globe.

The Pentagon did not indicate whether the May 6 airstrike was conducted by a warplane or unmanned drone.

jar/bw (AP, Reuters)

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