Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters were on Saturday advancing on the town of Dabiq to retake it from Islamic State jihadists, the Turkish president said. After Jarabulus and Al-Rai in Syria, “we are now advancing. Where? To Dabiq,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in televised comments in the Black Sea province of Rize. Turkey launched an unprecedented operation inside Syria on August 24 to cleanse its frontier from IS jihadists and Syrian Kurdish militia forces.
In the early weeks of the operation, Jarabulus and Al-Rai were the first two major settlements to be captured from IS by Turkey-backed rebels. Dabiq holds symbolic importance for IS because of a Sunni prophecy that states it will be the site of an end-of-times battle between Christian forces and Muslims.
The Syrian rebels, supported by the Turkish planes and tanks, are 2.5 kilometres from Dabiq, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “Two hours ago, the rebels started their attack to control Dabiq. The rebels came from Al-Rai,” it said.