Syrian rebels take control of Dabiq from Islamic State

DABIQ, Syria, Oct. 17 (UPI) — Syrian rebels aided by a U.S.-led coalition on Sunday said they have taken control of the symbolically significant town of Dabiq from the Islamic State.

Dabiq is 6 miles away from Syria’s border with Turkey. The Syrian rebels are also supported by the Turkish government with tanks and artillery, while the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State launched airstrikes.

The Islamic State’s loss of Dabiq and other surrounding areas cut off its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa from additional supply routes.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the Syrian rebels have taken “full control” of Dabiq, which was seized by the Islamic State in August 2014 amid a massive land grab amid the militant group’s peak in terms of land acquisition.

Dabiq holds special theological significance to the Islamic State, where — according to one reading of IS doctrine — a final battle between good and evil will take place. The Islamic State’s English-language magazine is called Dabiq.

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In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said the capture of Dabiq brings “new momentum” against the Islamic State in Syria.

“This is more than just the latest military result against this barbaric group,” Carter said. “The group carried out unspeakable atrocities in Dabiq … and claimed it would be the site of a final victory for the so-called caliphate.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic State withdrew from Dabiq less than 24 hours after rebels began their offensive. The United Kingdom-based group said 1,200 IS militants traveled to Dabiq to strengthen defenses.

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