Syr­ian rebels cap­ture IS strong­hold

The Myanmar Times - - Work -

SYR­IAN rebels dealt a ma­jor sym­bolic blow to the Is­lamic State group by cap­tur­ing the town of Dabiq where the ji­hadists had promised an apoc­a­lyp­tic bat­tle.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, Turk­ish state me­dia and a rebel fac­tion said op­po­si­tion fight­ers backed by Turk­ish war­planes and ar­tillery seized con­trol of Dabiq on Oc­to­ber 16.

The town, in Syria’s north­ern prov­ince of Aleppo, is of lit­tle strate­gic value. But Dabiq holds cru­cial ide­o­log­i­cal im­por­tance for the IS and its fol­low­ers be­cause of a Sunni prophecy that states it will be the site of an end-of­times bat­tle be­tween Chris­tian forces and Mus­lims.

US Sec­re­tary of De­fense Ash Carter said Dabiq’s “lib­er­a­tion gives the cam­paign to de­liver ISIL a last­ing de­feat new mo­men­tum in Syria”.

The Ob­ser­va­tory, a Bri­tain-based mon­i­tor­ing group, said rebel forces “cap­tured Dabiq af­ter IS mem­bers with­drew from the area”.

The Fas­taqim Union, an Ankarabacked rebel fac­tion in­volved in the bat­tle, said Dabiq had fallen “af­ter fierce clashes”.

Fas­taqim said rebels then went on to seize sev­eral nearby towns, in­clud­ing Sawran, Ih­ti­may­lat and Sal­i­hiyah.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said nine rebels were killed and 28 wounded dur­ing fight­ing to cap­ture the towns.

Video footage showed the streets of the town vir­tu­ally de­serted, with black IS flags painted on the fa­cades of build­ings.

Dabiq has be­come a by­word among IS sup­port­ers for a strug­gle against the West, with Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies por­trayed as mod­ern-day Cru­saders.

The IS, which seized con­trol of large parts of Syria and Iraq in mid-2014 and de­clared an Is­lamic “caliphate”, has been dealt a se­ries of mil­i­tary de­feats this year and is brac­ing for an as­sault on its key Iraqi strong­hold Mo­sul.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said Turk­ish-backed rebels would now fo­cus on tak­ing the ji­hadist-held town of Al-Bab in Aleppo prov­ince.

Turkey launched an un­prece­dented op­er­a­tion in­side Syria on Au­gust 24, help­ing Syr­ian rebels to rid its fron­tier of IS ji­hadists and Syr­ian Kur­dish mili­tia. –

Photo: AFP

A Free Syr­ian Army sol­dier cov­ers his ears as he fires a mor­tar launcher dur­ing fight­ing against Is­lamic State (IS) ji­hadists on the out­skirts of Dabiq.

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