AZAZ, Syria – Anadolu Agency
A member of the Turkey-backed FSA rebels makes victory sign before seizing Dabiq from ISIL yesterday.
The jihadist group considers Dabiq important because it is the site of an apocalyptic Islamic prophesy, and ISIL had stationed around 1,200 of its fighters there said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor. ISIL says that Dabiq will be the site of a final battle between Muslims and infidels heralding Doomsday.
ISIL jihadists have encouraged their supporters to regard the battle as imminent and have even named one of their publications “Dabiq.”
In another publication of the jihadist group that is published online, ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was quoted as saying that the fight in Dabiq between ISIL and Ankara-backed FSA members was not the one they were waiting for.
“Free Syrian Army takes the much talked-about town of Dabiq. Another area is cleared from the terrorists. Another DEASH myth is dismantled,” wrote Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on his Twitter account yesterday.
The observatory said rebel forces “captured Dabiq after ISIL members withdrew from the area,” AFP reported.
The Fastaqim Union, an Ankara-backed rebel faction involved in the battle, told AFP that Dabiq had fallen “after fierce clashes.”
For the total control of the area, the FSA fighters need to clear the mines and explosives inside the villages and also need to take control of the other four villages from ISIL that lie to the northwest of the Dabiq village, the military sources said.
A commander of the Syrian opposition Hamza Brigade, Saif Abu Bakr, said ISIL fighters had put up “minimal” resistance to defend Dabiq before withdrawing in the direction of the much larger ISIL-held town of al-Bab to the south, the Associated Press reported.
He said some 2,000 opposition fighters pushed into Dabiq with tank and artillery support from the Turkish army. The commander said the extremists left the town heavily mined.
Both Turkish and international coalition warplanes conducted airstrikes on Dabiq and nearby Arshak, Anadolu Agency reported.
Security forces reportedly said the “hardest part” of Operation Euphrates Shield was completed and that campaigns would continue.