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Free Fire | | Counterterrorism, Middle East

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On October 16th, the U.S. struck two Islamic State camps in Yemen, killing dozens of fighters, in an attempt to stop the organization from training new fighters.

The two training camps targeted by the U.S. were used to train fighters on the use of small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to carry out terrorist attacks.

The strikes against IS targets were intended to disrupt and destroy terrorist plots, leadership networks and to prevent IS from having freedom of maneuver within the region.

Just a week earlier on October 9th, Islamic State released a set of photos documenting training of fighters on one of the camps in al-Bayda governorate.

Islamic State uses ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, supply and recruit for attacks. IS has taken advantage of the political instability in Yemen, where Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels are waging an insurgency against the Yemeni government backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Islamic State first appeared in Yemen in 2015, carrying out a pair of big suicide bombings against two Shi’ite mosques in Sanaa, killing 137 civilians and wounding at least 357.

This is the first time the U.S. targeted IS in Yemen, previously exclusively targeting the other main terror group in the country, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. has conducted over 100 bombings this year in Yemen to target AQAP which has a larger influence in Yemen.

In August, U.S. troops were sent to Yemen for an operation to push al-Qaeda militants from key strongholds in central Yemen. U.S. troops provided intelligence sharing, midair refueling and overhead reconnaissance for forces involved in the operation.

U.S. troops were previously in Yemen but were forced to leave in March 2015 after Houthi rebels ousted the government.

The U.S. has worked in cooperation with the Yemeni government in counter-terrorism operations to target IS and AQAP in order to degrade the groups’ ability to carry out future attacks and to limit the ability to hold territory.

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