About 50 ISIS fighters were killed in U.S. military airstrikes in Yemen targeting two training camps in the country’s central region. One of the camps had gained notoriety last week as the scene of an ISIS training video that showed images of ISIS recruits appearing to be kicked in the groin to demonstrate their physical toughness.
“U.S. forces killed dozens of ISIS members in a strike on two ISIS training camps, Oct. 16, in Al Bayda Governorate, Yemen, disrupting the organization’s attempts to train new fighters,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“ISIS used the camps to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training,” it added.
A U.S. official said the American airstrikes were the first targeting ISIS in Yemen, a country better known as the home of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The U.S. military has conducted more than 100 airstrikes this year against AQAP, almost triple last year’s strikes. Carried out mostly by drones, the strikes are part of an increased effort to rein in the al Qaeda affiliate’s terror and territorial ambitions.
Both manned and unmanned aircraft were involved in Monday’s airstrikes against the two ISIS camps that were about 20 miles apart, said the U.S. official.
One of the camps earned notoriety last week in an ISIS propaganda video that showed a line of ISIS recruits seeming to be kicked in the crotch to demonstrate their mental and physical toughness.
Some local fighting groups in Yemen first aligned themselves with ISIS in 2014, the year that ISIS had its most significant territorial gains in Iraq and Syria.
“Strikes against ISIS targets disrupt and destroy militants’ attack-plotting efforts, leadership networks, and freedom of maneuver within the region,” said the Pentagon statement.
Yemen is involved in a civil war where military forces from Gulf allies have been fighting against Houthi rebels to restore Yemen’s government to power. That power vacuum led to a resurgence by AQAP and the emergence of ISIS in Yemen.
“ISIS has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world,” said the Pentagon statement. “For years, Yemen has been a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and transit.”
The U.S. military coordinates with the Yemeni government to carry out counterterrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and AQAP to prevent both groups from carrying out external terror attacks and limit the territory they control in Yemen.