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Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook briefs the media at the White House on Apr. 27, 2016.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook briefs the media at the White House on Apr. 27, 2016. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State group’s top military commander in the battle-worn Anbar Province was killed Friday in an airstrike, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Abu Wahib, the terrorist group’s longtime military emir, and three other militants were killed by the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition in the western region of Anbar, Iraq’s most expansive province, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Monday.

Cook declined to provide specific details about the strike.

“Abu Wahib’s death is another blow to (the Islamic State group’s) leadership that will further degrade its ability to operate, especially in Anbar Province,” he said. “… It is dangerous to be an (Islamic State group) leader in Iraq and Syria these days.”

Wahib, also knowns as Shakir Wahib, had been loyal to the Islamic State group since it was known as al-Qaida in Iraq. He had appeared in some of the group’s notorious execution videos, including a brutal 2013 video that showed him fatally shooting a trio of kneeling Syrian truck drivers.

Wahib was riding in a vehicle near Rhutba, a small town in Anbar about 50 miles from the Syrian border, when he was killed, Cook said.

Anbar Province, the Sunni heartland in Iraq just west of Baghdad, has been the site of much of the recent fighting between the coalition-backed Iraqi security forces and the Islamic State group. The Islamic State swept into control of much of Anbar beginning in 2014. After months of heavy fighting, Iraqi forces recently retook two of the provinces key cities, Ramadi and Hit. The Islamic State remains in control of another key Anbar city, Fallujah. Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.
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