IS "ousted from symbolic Syrian town of Dabiq"

It said that Turkey-backed opposition fighters captured three nearby villages, encircling Dabiq and cutting off all supply routes.

A coalition of Turkish and Syrian opposition forces, backed by the US, has defeated Islamic State in the Syrian town of Dabiq, dealing a massive blow to the terrorist group's propaganda message.

Now the Free Syrian Army operation will continue, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu, as fighters seek to clear the town of mines, booby-traps and IEDs.

Dabiq, which lies a few miles from the Turkish border, is the site of a prophesied battle between Muslims and non-believers that is supposed to take place at the end of the world, and has featured often in Isis propaganda.

The last IS fighters who were defending Dabiq, a small town with a population of 3,500, left on Sunday without a fight because a small force of Free Syrian Army rebels, back by Turkey and United States airstrikes had advanced.

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"Dabiq has a theological importance in the Salafist narrative and particularly in that of ISIS".

The group also named its English-language online magazine after the town.

Dabiq holds religious significance for IS because of an eighth-century, end-of-times Sunni prophecy predicting it will be the site of an apocalyptic showdown between Islam and Christianity.

Ankara has announced plans to expand the so-called security zone deeper into northern Syria, after rebels - backed by Turkey's tanks and air force as part of the ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield - achieved a "strategic and symbolic" victory against ISIS.

But Turkish state media said opposition forces, backed by Turkish warplanes and artillery, seized control of Dabiq on Sunday.

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"The Daesh myth of their great battle in Dabiq is finished", he told Reuters, using a pejorative name for Islamic State.

ISIS took control of the town, which had a prewar population of about 3,000 people, in August 2014.

Turkey launched an unprecedented operation inside Syria on August 24, helping Syrian rebels to rid its frontier of ISIS jihadists and Syrian Kurdish militia.

But Dabiq and its surroundings, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State had brought 1,200 fighters in recent weeks, occupied a salient into territory captured by the Turkey-backed rebels.

The loss was just the latest to plague Islamic State militants after a series of significant setbacks in Syria and Iraq at the hands of various forces, rebel commanders said.

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Syrian political activists and NGO workers say many refugees would likely return.


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