Syrian Opposition fighters backed by Turkey launched an attack on ISIS’ stronghold of Dabiq in northwestern Syria on Saturday, a Syrian Opposition commander said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said opposition forces had also taken the villages of Irshaf and Ghaitun, which would all but cut off Dabiq and another large village, Soran, in an isolated pocket surrounded by insurgents.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday announced that Syria’s opposition combatants were advancing on Dabiq and a Turkish security source said they had that morning cleared ISIS militants from the hamlet of al-Ghaylaniyeh.
Euphrates Shield, the campaign by Turkey and allied opposition forces to clear ISIS from areas along the border between the two countries began in August.
A Syrian Opposition commander in the Euphrates Shield operation said the attack on Dabiq had started on Saturday morning and the Observatory said the fighters backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes had begun their attack on the village’s vicinities.
However, the Turkish military sources said the operation was ongoing.
“The operation for Dabiq started 10 days ago. We started the effort to take control of the region from the south. ISIS targets are being hit by Turkish fighter jets and artillery” one of them said.
While Euphrates Shield has pushed ISIS from its last foothold on Syria’s Turkish border, a longer campaign by the U.S.-backed, Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces has recaptured swathes of territory from the group since last year.
ISIS also faces an expected assault on Iraq’s Mosul, the largest and most important city it has held since its lightning advance across huge tracts of Syria and Iraq in summer 2014.