Op­po­si­tion forces ex­pel IS from Syr­ian town

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

Peo­ple gather to watch dancers dur­ing the London Diwali Fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions for Hin­dus, Sikhs, and Jains, in Trafal­gar Square, cen­tral London, yes­ter­day. Ma­jor events are planned across the cap­i­tal as London marks its cul­tural di­ver­sity with the Diwali Fes­ti­val. In this im­age made from video posted on­line by Qa­sioun News Agency, mem­bers of a Turk­ish-backed Syr­ian op­po­si­tion force pa­trol in Dabiq, Syria, on Sun­day. Turk­ish-backed Syr­ian op­po­si­tion forces have cap­tured the sym­bol­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant town of Dabiq from the Is­lamic State group. The Is­lamic State group took con­trol of the town over two years ago. BEIRUT (AP): TURK­ISH-BACKED Syr­ian op­po­si­tion forces have cap­tured the sym­bol­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant town of Dabiq from the Is­lamic State (IS) group, the fac­tions said Sun­day morn­ing.

A com­man­der of the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion Hamza Brigade said Is­lamic State fight­ers put up “min­i­mal” re­sis­tance to de­fend the north­ern Syr­ian town be­fore with­draw­ing in the di­rec­tion of the much larger IS-held town of al-Bab to the south.

Saif Abu Bakr 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 air strikes on Dabiq and nearby Ar­shak, the Turk­ish state-run Anadolu news agency re­ported.

The Is­lamic State group took con­trol of the town, which had a pre-war pop­u­la­tion of about 3,000 peo­ple, in Au­gust 2014. The group’s pro­pa­ganda had boasted of the fight for the north­ern Syr­ian town, cit­ing Is­lamic lore that it would be the scene of a ma­jor bat­tle be­tween cru­saders and army of the Mus­lim caliphate that would herald dooms­day. The group’s English lan­guage mag­a­zine, Dabiq, is named after the town, and in 2014 they said they had buried the Amer­i­can cap­tive Peter Ab­dul-Rah­man Kas­sig there.

The Turk­ish mil­i­tary in­ter­vened in the Syr­ian war in Au­gust this year un­der or­ders from Ankara to clear the border area from the Is­lamic State group and US-backed Syr­ian

Kur­dish force-linked Turkey’s own out­lawed Kur­dish in­sur­gency. The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment de­scribes both groups as ter­ror­ists.

Syr­ian op­po­si­tion forces backed by Turk­ish ground and air forces have since ex­pelled Is­lamic State mil­i­tants from their last po­si­tions along the Syr­ian-Turk­ish fron­tier and are clos­ing in on al-Bab, one of the last re­main­ing IS strongholds in Syria’s con­tested Aleppo prov­ince.

Turkey has taken thou­sands of op­po­si­tion fight­ers from other fronts in north­ern Syria to the fron­tier as part of op­er­a­tion ‘Euphrates Shield’, named after the vi­tal river that runs through the re­gion.

The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights group, which mon­i­tors the con­flict through a net­work of lo­cal con­tacts, said the ex­trem­ist group had sent over 1,000 fight­ers to de­fend Dabiq last week be­fore with­draw­ing hur­riedly.

AP

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