10/17/2016, 12.50
SYRIA - TURKEY
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Syrian rebels and Turkish army wrest Dabiq from the Islamic State

Ground troops and Ankara’s air raids favored the conquest of the town on the Turkish-Syrian border. The enormous symbolic value of Dabiq for jihadists. According to the Sunni tradition it is the site of the final battle between good and evil. Standoff between Moscow and the West continues. United States and Britain threaten new economic sanctions against Moscow and Damascus.

 

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The rebel linked Free Syrian Army militias (FSA) and supported by the army in Ankara yesterday wrested Dabiq – a strategic town situated north of Aleppo, a short distance from the Turkish-Syrian border – from the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS).

 According to reports from the London based NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fighting groups supported by the Turkish air raids, "have captured Dabiq, after members of the IS withdrew from the area ".

The Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman adds that the militants have also seized the nearby town of Sawran.

Sources of the rebel group Union Fastaqim say Dabiq fell "after a fierce battle with Daesh" [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, ed]. The fighting groups uploaded images of their entrance into the city onto social networks. The Turkish State agency Anadolu adds that the rebels are carrying out mine clearance and land reclamation, looking for unexploded mines buried in the ground or abandoned by jihadists before fleeing.

In yesterday's battle at least nine Syrian rebel fighters died and another 28 were injured.

Dabiq is a small suburb near the border with Turkey, which before the war had about 5 thousand inhabitants. It is of limited strategic importance when compared to Raqqa, but has a high symbolic value because here - according to the prophecy of Islam - the final battle between Islam and infidels will be consumed, with the victory of the Muslims. A battle of "good" against "evil" in the Sunni view, as also reported by some agencies, and the place of the "final battle" between "Christian and Muslim forces", in a sectarian interpretation of history.

The symbolic value of the town is also confirmed by the fact that "Dabiq" is also the name of the "Caliphate’s" official quarterly magazine in English, published online  - very professional  - from 2014 until the summer of 2016, and aimed at a Western audience.

Dabiq, as a symbol of jihadist propaganda, also houses the mausoleum of the seventh caliph of the Umayyad dynasty Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik (674-717); a monument destroyed by the militants of the Islamic State in the summer of 2014, in the name of the iconoclastic struggle against so-called symbols of "idolatry".

Meanwhile the stand-off between Moscow (the first ally of the Damascus government) and the Western bloc continues, after the failure of talks last weekend in Lausanne (Switzerland). The United States and United Kingdom have threatened new economic sanctions against Russia and Syria if they continue air strikes against Aleppo, the epicenter of the Syrian conflict. US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks of  an unprecedented  "humanitarian disaster" and warns the Kremlin that the war "cannot end without a political agreement." He finally raised charges of "crimes against humanity" that are reportedly taking place in the metropolis of the north of Syria.

He is echoed by the British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who says that is necessary to reach a ceasefire, "relaunching negotiations in Geneva" and maintaining diplomatic "pressure" on Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin instead has responded that any sanctions against Moscow would be "counterproductive"; the Kremlin renewed its commitment to peace, although deep divisions on the ground with the West remain.

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