Turkish-backed Rebels 20 km From ISIS-controlled Al-Bab

About 20 kilometers separates Free Syrian Army rebels from the town of Al-Bab, currently under ISIS control

After taking control of Souran and Dabiq in the northern Aleppo countryside as part of Operation Euphrates Shield, the Free Syrian Army, supported by Turkish forces, has reached about 20 kilometers from the strategic city of Al-Bab in the eastern Aleppo countryside, after managing to clear about 1,200 square kilometers from Islamic State group control.

Control over the town of Souran and the village of Dabiq has helped connect the towns of Mareaa in the northern countryside and Jarablus in the eastern countryside, while it has made it hard for the Kurdish PYD militia to carry out their plans of connecting the areas under their control in northeastern Syria. The PYD holds large swathes of area extending from the Iraqi border in the east to Manbij in the west toward the town of Afrin in the northwestern Aleppo countryside, which will be completely cut off if the town of Al-Bab is liberated by the FSA.

According to observers, control over the village of Dabiq was a morale blow to the Islamic State group, because this village was religiously symbolic for the group and its belief that a great battle between what it describes as the Islamic state and the "crusaders" would take place there — this was to such an extent that the group’s leaders named their media agency Dabiq. The group’s leader Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi justified the loss by saying the time was not yet ripe for the anticipated battle of Dabiq, and that they would return to it for the major event, according to sites close to the group.

Sources in the Free Syrian Army said that the rebel groups were determined to continue their way south toward Al-Bab until they took control of it and expelled ISIS. They said that the depth they had reached from the Turkish border was between 20 to 23 kilometers.

The sources said that the area they had taken control of since the start of Operation Euphrates Shield on August 24 had seen a large number of residents returning who had taken refuge in the camps to flee the Islamic State. They vowed to do what was needed to guarantee the safety of the people in the areas under its control.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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