The Long War Journal has identified more than 100 training camps in Iraq and Syria. Not all of them are currently operational, according to their report, “but the proliferation of camps by the Islamic State, the Al Nusrah Front, and other groups poses a serious regional and global threat.”
“Since the beginning of 2012, a total of 117 camps have been identified as being operational at one point in time. Of those identified, 85 have been found in Syria and 32 in Iraq. 11 camps are used to indoctrinate and train children,” according to an article in the Long War Journal.
Officials say they were able to gather information on these camps through several sources including: jihadist videos and images, news accounts, and US military press releases describing airstrikes at those training facilities.
“Sixteen of the camps that were recently identified by the Long War Journal belong to the Islamic State, the al Qaeda splinter group that now controls significant portions of land in Iraq and Syria,” says the article.
Many of them include training facilities in Iraq’s Ninewa, Salahadin and Anbar provinces — where Russian speaking fighters can be seen training to form “death squads” for suicide missions.
In the Damascus countryside and other suburbs of the city, as well as in Aleppo and Hamah provinces, between Raqqah and Salamiyah, recruits can be seen undergoing weapons training and taking part in physical exercises.
Some of the training facilities also include schools, according to the article. One of them which was showcased by the Islamic State in a video, showed children learning Arabic, Quran, and taking part in military training. This camp, according to the report, is probably near Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq.
Another camp in Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, was showcased on June 11, 2015. More than two dozen recruits were shown training with Ak-47’s, as well as training in water and in wooded areas. In the Islamic State’s video to commemorate the one year anniversary of capturing Mosul, another training camp was shown somewhere in Iraq’s Ninewa province.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry said that the air force struck one camp in Hit, a city in the al-Anbar province, just a few days ago. The Ministry went on to say that, “at least 45 militants were killed, including the Tunisian emir and another Chechen commander of the camp.”
In addition to the Islamic State camps listed, there were also six camps identified by the Long War Journal belonging to the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, as well as nine others belonging to jihadist groups allied to Al Nusrah.