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Will ISIS Resist in Turkey-led Dabiq Battle?

truppe turche in siriaAlwaght – The clashes go on in Aleppo’s northern outskirts between the Turkey-backed armed groups as part of what Ankara called Euphrates Shield forces on the one hand and the fighters of ISIS terrorist group on the other hand amid a considerable intensification of the fierceness of the fighting.

After advancing with a fast speed in the areas close to the Turkish border since start of the Operation Euphrates Shield that began from Jarabulus in east and Azaz in west, the development of the pro-Turkey armed groups in ISIS-held areas has become more difficult in past few days.

The Euphrates Shield forces fought fierce clashes yesterday with the ISIS, and has managed to capture from the terrorist group the Turkmen Bareh village in south of Al-Raee town in northern Aleppo. They kept progressing to ISIS-held Dabiq, however, their movement was curbed after they lost more than 21 of their fighters in the clashes according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. This is the largest loss among the forces taking part in the Turkey-led military operation inside the Syrian territory since its launching in late August.

A commander in the armed groups participating in the Operation Euphrates Shield has said that the fighters are aiming at reaching to the ISIS-held Dabiq within 48 hours if things go on as planned in a reference to the major operation Turkey is leading in northern Syria against the ISIS terrorists.

Ahmad Othman from Sultan Morad Brigade added that advances towards Dabiq have slowed down due to landmines planted densely in the area. He continued that at least 15 of pro-Turkey forces were killed yesterday by landmines as well as by mortar shelling in Turkmen Bareh village which is part of Dabiq town.

Only 15 kilometers away from the Turkish borders with Syria, Dabiq holds a significant place for ISIS terrorists. ISIS fought brutal clashes with the Syrian government forces in 2014 to take control of the strategic town. The terrorist group used name of the town for its prominent English-language magazine due to historical and religious importance of Dabiq.

At the same time, ISIS takes Dabiq name for its elite forces that are also branded Caliphate Army, according to an earlier report by the website belonging to the citizen journalism campaign “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.” The website also said that ISIS recruited Chechen, Uzbek, and African fighters and trained them in Al-Jarah Airport in Aleppo outskirts, Maskana town, and Camp Osama bin Laden in Raqqa outskirts. Dabiq Army includes nearly 4,000 fighters, roughly half of them from the Caucasus states.

The terrorist group describes Dabiq as the stage that will host a fight between the good and devil in the Judgment Day, as at the same time ISIS sees it as a gate for its expansion to other Arab states and Turkey, as well as to the West. It promotes that the Dabiq battle will not take place unless the international armies are sent to Syria for ground fighting. Perhaps this is the key reason behind the readiness it displayed yesterday in its clashes with Euphrates Shield forces, and its planting thousands of landmines around the town.

On the side of the pro-Turkey forces, there is a strong motivation for them to press ahead with efforts to capture Dabiq from the terrorist group. The town is very symbolic for Turkey because it stood for 500 years as the gate from which the Ottoman Empire took control of the Levant and then Egypt after defeating Mamluk Sultanate in the famous Battle of Marj Dabiq. It is also noteworthy that the Operation Euphrates Shield that was launched by Ankara on August 24, 2016 in Aleppo’s northern outskirts coincided exactly the 500th anniversary of Battle of Marj Dabiq on August 24, 1516.

According to the evidences, it appears that Dabiq battle between Euphrates Shield forces and ISIS terrorist group will take more than 48 hours as was expected by the commander in Sultan Morad Brigade. Will ISIS resist in its expected fight? The question will get answer in the upcoming days.

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