Iraqi tribesmen are reporting the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, according to Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Malaki. Al-Masri is the Egyptian who took over AQI after al-Zarqawi was killed last June by a coalition airstrike. The report of Masri's death have not been confirmed by either the Iraqi government or by coalition forces. A search for the body is ongoing, in the hope that DNA testing will confirm al-Masri's demise.
Sunni tribal sources are claiming that al-Masri was killed in the village of al-Nibayi, near Taji in the Salahadin province. This is not the first time that al-Masri has been reported dead- in October of last year the Iraqi government reported that he had been killed, and in February, he was reported wounded near Balad. If this latest report is true, it will be very interesting to see who claims the credit.
The fighters at this point are loosely identified as "Sunni tribesmen". That could mean many things- there have been previous reports that a movement akin to the Anbar Salvation Council beginning in Salahadin province, and this could be one of that movement's first victories. More likely is that ASC fighters went hunting in nearby Salahadin province, and turned up gold. Two major tribes being courted by the ASC have debts to pay AQI, and killing their leader would square the bill nicely. As you've read here before, the al-bu Issa tribe has suffered multiple chlorine and ground attacks around Amiriya at the hands of al-Qaeda. The son of the sheik of the al-Zuba'a tribe was killed by al-Qaeda fighters. I would not be surprised to see fingerprints from one of those two tribes on this one.
PS: I can't access Bill Roggio's site right now for some reason, but I'm sure he beat me to this one.
PPS: Just talked to Bill: he also has a post up. Go hit The Fourth Rail for more analysis.