WASHINGTON – Dozens of ISIS militants were killed Monday by a U.S. airstrike in Yemen targeting two training camps, the Defense Department said, marking the first time the U.S. has bombed ISIS in the country.
The strike in Al Bayda Governorate, near the center of Yemen, will disrupt the organization’s attempts “to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training,” the Defense Department said in a statement.
The operation was conducted in coordination with the internationally recognized government of Yemen, the Defense Department said. The strike was part of ongoing counterterrorism operations by the U.S. against ISIS 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.”
Yemen is in the midst of a two-year running civil war, which pits ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is supported by a Saudi Arabia-led, U.S.-backed coalition, against Iran-supported Houthi rebels and supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The U.S. provides aerial refueling for Saudi-led coalition aircraft and also provides limited intelligence support.
The United Nations estimates that more than 8,530 people, 60 percent of them civilians, have been killed and another 48,800 injured in Yemen since March 2015. The U.N. estimates that 3 million people in Yemen malnourished, and 80 percent of the population relies on humanitarian aid. The nation is also racked by a cholera epidemic.