Four new terrorist training camps in Iraq and Syria, three of them operated by the Islamic State, have been identified by The Long War Journal. The identification of these camps, three in Syria and one in Iraq, brings the total number of jihadist-run camps identified in the two countries to 46.
On Nov. 14, US Central Command issued a statement noting that US or coalition airstrikes targeted an Islamic State training camp “east of Raqqah.” That brought the total number of airstrikes against Islamic State training camps near Raqqah to five. Camps near Raqqah were previously struck on Sept. 22, on Sept. 27, on Oct. 3, and again on Oct. 8.
Photographs released on Twitter also purport to show the Islamic State utilizing locations in the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Ninewa province, for the training of a “special forces unit.” The unit, dubbed Qawat al Muhaam al Khaasa (Special Task Force), has been seen in photographs showing trainees rappelling off of buildings and bridges in Mosul. Some photos also purport to show the graduation of fighters in the unit. In other photographs, American-made weapons such as the M16 are clearly visible. Videos have also been uploaded to YouTube that show the Qawat al Muhaam al Khaasa unit in training.
And in a propaganda video entitled “Race Towards Good,” the Islamic State showcased a training camp that is used exclusively by Kazakh fighters. The exact location of the camp is unclear, but it appears to be near Raqqah. The video showed the fighters receiving physical training and schooling in firearms such as American, Russian, and Austrian-made sniper rifles. The second half of the video showed Kazakh children being taught Arabic, as well as physical and military training. In one scene, a Kazakh child is shown assembling an AK-47 assault rifle. At the end of the video, a Kazakh child recites a speech for the camera, saying, “We’re going to kill you, O kuffar [unbelievers]. Insha’allah [God-willing], we will slaughter you.” [Continue reading…]