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Syria rebels prepare to attack symbolic IS-held 'apocalypse town' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syria rebels prepare to attack symbolic IS-held 'apocalypse town'

Losing the strategically insignificant town would be a crushing blow to IS [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 October, 2016

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Syrian rebels backed by Turkey are two days away from launching an offensive on the IS-held town of Dabiq, which has been a religious rallying cry for the jihadist group.

Syrian rebels backed by Turkey are two days aways from launching an offensive on Islamic State group [IS] controlled town in Aleppo province, which has been a religious rallying cry for the jihadist group.

The rebels are now 48 hours from beginning the assault on Dabiq - the site which IS considers as one of the two possible locations for an epic battle between Muslims and Christians that will result in a Muslim victory and mark the beginning of the end of the world.

"The Turkey-backed rebels are now on the outskirts of Dabiq, which holds great religious significance to IS as the location of the end-of-times battle," The New Arab's Syria correspondent Adnan Ali reported on Monday.

"Taking the town is part of the second stage of Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Aleppo province, which is aimed at recapturing the IS bastion of al-Bab."

Ahmad Osman of the Sultan Murad rebel group told Reuters that the rebels aim to reach Dabiq within 48 hours if all goes to plan and that they have been slowed down because IS has heavily mined the area.

An Islamic prophecy states that Dabiq could be the site of an apocalyptic battle between Christian and Muslims forces.

     
      IS' online magazine "Dabiq" has said Turkey is part of
the "crusader NATO alliance" 

"The last hour will not come until the Romans land at al-Amaq or Dabiq. Then an army made up of best [soldiers] on earth will come from Medina [to fight them]," a translation of the Hadith - traditions attributed to Prophet Muhammad - reads.

Dabiq's location is not very strategic, however, losing the town would represent a crushing blow to the group and have a heavy negative impact on morale.

IS said that Turkey was part of the "crusader NATO alliance" in the September 2015 issue of its online magazine called Dabiq, possibly qualifying the advancing forces as the foretold "Romans".

IS has also called on Turkish people to "conquer Istanbul and Turkey from the ones who cooperate with the West," and referred to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "Satan".

In August, Turkey inaugurated a new bridge named after the 16th century Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim, who conquered swathes of the Middle East and led the legendary victory at the battle of Marj Dabiq near the modern-day town.

The bridge opened two days after Turkey launched its operation against jihadists in Syria or precisely 500 years to the day after the battle.

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