US forces said they had killed dozens of so-called “Islamic State” members in a strike on training camps in Yemen’s al Bayda governorate. The US has upped its number of strikes in Yemen as the civil war drags on.
Reports indicated that about 50 “Islamic State (IS) fighters were killed in two airstrikes, both manned and unmanned.
IS militants had been conducting endurance training at the camps, 20 miles (32 kilometers) apart, using AK-47s, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, US defense department officials said in a statement.
“IS has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, supply and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world,” it read.
“For years, Yemen has been a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and transit,” they added.
The government of Yemen and US forces are conducting operations in Yemen where IS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have exploited a conflict between the government and Shiite Houthi rebels, who control the capital, Sanaa.
Washington has stated it wants to destroy insurgents’ ability to coordinate terror attacks and limit their ability to hold on to territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen, officials said.
The US’ wider goals, however, in Yemen may be to boost its post-war role in the country and underpin the key strategic role being played by regional ally, Saudi Arabia, on several fronts in the region.
Yemen has been a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and transit, according to the Pentagon, which said IS has used the ungoverned spaces of the country to “plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world.”
One of the camps was the scene last week of an IS training video showing IS recruits being kicked in the groin to demonstrate their physical toughness.
The US military has conducted over 100 airstrikes this year, almost triple the number in 2016.
Yemen is undergoing a civil war where military forces from Gulf allies have been fighting against Houthi rebels to restore Yemen’s government to power. A power vacuum led to the resurgence by AQAP and the emergence of IS in Yemen.