The Pentagon says the notorious leader of Islamic State extremists in Iraq's Anbar province has been killed in a coalition airstrike, along with three other jihadists.
Spokesman Peter Cook, speaking Monday, said the May 6 strike near the town of Rutba targeted militant Abu Wahib and his cohorts, who were traveling in a vehicle when hit.
Cook linked Abu Wahib to widely circulated execution videos, and described the militant's killing as "a significant step forward" in the push by the Baghdad government and the U.S.-led coalition supporting it to subdue the extremist movement.
Cook did not say whether the vehicle was attacked by a warplane or a drone, and did not reference Iraqi government reports in 2015 that also claimed the militant had been killed.
Kurdish and Shi'ite websites say Abu Wahib was among more than 100 prisoners who escaped in 2012 from a maximum security prison in Tikrit. That breakout was orchestrated by Islamic State leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, who then appointed Abu Wahib as IS military leader in Anbar.
Abu Wahib gained international notoriety a year later, when widely circulated video showed him publicly executing three Syrian truck drivers near the Syrian border.
The drivers are forced to exit their vehicles and three of four are shot dead after failing to give correct answers to religious questions posed by Abu Wahib to determine whether the drivers were Sunnis.
Abu Wahib was first reported killed last year in a coalition airstrike near Mosul, and the Iraqi government later published an image of a corpse identified as that of the militant.
But a report by the Kurdish-language Assyrian International News Agency quoted militants who later said Abu Wahib recovered from injuries sustained in the attack. The ARA report also published a picture purporting to show the militant driving a car in Anbar weeks after his reported death.