Aden, London – US forces killed dozens of ISIS militants in a strike on two ISIS training camps, Oct. 16, in al-Bayda governorate, center of Yemen. However, security officials and locals said the strike targeted militants belonging to al-Qaeda and not ISIS terrorist group.
US Central Command announced that its forces raided two ISIS camps used to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training which resulted in disrupting the organization’s attempts to train new fighters.
Strikes against ISIS targets disrupt and destroy militants’ attack-plotting efforts, leadership networks, and freedom of maneuver within the region, according to Central Command.
“In coordination with the government of Yemen, US forces are supporting ongoing counter-terrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and 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,” reiterated the Command.
Local eyewitnesses told Reuters that tribal leaders were not allowed near the area in Bayda out of fear of another strike.
Locals reported that the two camps were named after two ISIS leaders who were killed during a US airstrike last summer: ISIS leader in Yemen Abu Bilal al-Harbi and ISIS spokesperson Abu Mohamemd al-Adnani.
A Yemeni security official stated that five al-Qaeda militants were killed in an airstrike believed to be done by the US forces. He explained that 12 raids targeted Qaeda sites in al-Abal and Yekla areas in Ould Rabieh district of Bayda governorate which is considered the organization’s stronghold in the country.
Locals told Asharq al-Awsat that the raid happened after three days of intense drones= hovering above the area, adding that it still wasn’t clear how many militants were killed or injured because people were afraid to approach the area as US aircraft hovered over for hours.
US drones continue to target militants suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations in Yemen’s center. On October 8, US drones killed five ISIS militants northwest of Maerib.
Since January, US intensified its raids on Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) with over 100 strikes on Bayda, Shabwa, Maerib, Hadramout, and Abyen.
According to statistics, over 120 militants were killed during those raids including senior commanders.