Syrian rebels capture Dabiq 'doomsday town' from IS

Syrian rebels capture Dabiq 'doomsday town' from IS
Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters have taken over Dabiq from IS, a town the group believe will be the site of the apocalypse.
2 min read
16 October, 2016
FSA units have captured the Syrian town of Dabiq from IS militants [AFP]

Free Syrian Army units have captured the northern Syrian town of Dabiq from the Islamic State militant group, the opposition has said.

It brings an end the militant's rule of a town which holds immense ideological value to the group.

The rebel fighters "captured Dabiq after IS members withdrew from the area", according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Photos were seen of Syrian rebels celebrating their capture of the town on social media.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the fighters also captured the nearby town of Sawran.

One Turkey-backed rebel faction, the Fastaqim Union, also said Dabiq had fallen "after fierce clashes with Daesh," using the Arabic acronym for IS.

It published pictures on Twitter of a group of fighters on the back of a small white truck waving assault rifles in the air, with the town of Dabiq apparently in the background.

According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, the rebel fighters were working to dismantle mines laid in the town by retreating IS fighters.

Anadolu said nine Syrian rebels were killed and 28 others wounded during clashes on Saturday.

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

[Click to enlarge]

In the operation's early weeks, Jarabulus and al-Rai became the first two major settlements to be captured from the extremists.

Dabiq holds crucial ideological 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 town itself has negligible military value compared with the strategic IS-controlled cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

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

Dabiq is also the name of the group's sleek English-language propaganda magazine, which recently had a name change. Every new edition opens with a quote by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of IS's precursor, the Islamic State of Iraq.

Agencies contributed to this report.