US kills ‘dozens’ of Islamic State members in Yemen

The Department of Defense announced today that “dozens” of Islamic State “members” were killed in a strike on two training camps in Yemen.

The US military says the operation was intended to disrupt the “organization’s attempts to train new fighters.”

The camps were used “to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training,” according to the Pentagon’s announcement.

Just one week ago, on Oct. 9, the Islamic State released a set of photos documenting the “Abu Muhammad al Adnani” camp in Al Bayda. The images from the facility, which was named after the so-called caliphate’s deceased spokesman, can be seen below. The photos show the same types of training described by the Defense Department. The graduating class seen in the images was named after Abu Bilal al Harbi, a jihadist who helped build the Islamic State’s presence in the Arabian Peninsula.

It is not clear if the “Abu Muhammad al Adnani” camp was struck by the US, or if other areas were targeted. Some of the pictures are reminiscent of al Qaeda’s pre-9/11 camps in Afghanistan, with men hanging from monkey bars. The jihadists also practiced taking kicks to the groin area (see the photo at the top of this article).

The self-declared caliphate regularly advertises its presence in Al Bayda with photos, videos and other media.

The Islamic State “has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world,” the Pentagon said. “For years, Yemen has been a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and transit.”

The Defense Department noted that it is supporting “ongoing counterterrorism operations in Yemen against” both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) “to degrade the groups’ ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen.” Indeed, the US has stepped up its air campaign in Yemen, carrying out more than 100 bombings this year. Most of the airstrikes have targeted AQAP’s network, which is much larger than the Islamic State’s footprint in Yemen.

The Islamic State’s “province” in Yemen has suffered its share of setbacks, including leadership disagreements. AQAP fiercely opposes the expansion of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s project. Still, Baghdadi’s loyalists maintain a presence in the country and are attempting to expand their base.

“Strikes against ISIS targets disrupt and destroy militants’ attack-plotting efforts, leadership networks, and freedom of maneuver within the region,” the US military said today. The US is targeting such networks in several countries, including Yemen.

Photos released earlier this month from the Abu Muhammad al Adnani training camp in Yemen:

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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