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Syrian rebels seize 'doomsday' village where Islamic State promised final battle

Syrian rebels seize 'doomsday' village where Islamic State promised final battle

Angus McDowall and Tom Perry | Reuters

Syrian rebels said they captured the village of Dabiq from Islamic State on Sunday, forcing the jihadist group from a stronghold where it had promised to fight a final, apocalyptic battle with the West.

Its defeat at Dabiq, long a mainstay of Islamic State's propaganda, underscores the group's declining fortunes this year as it suffered battlefield defeats in Syria and Iraq and lost a string of senior leaders in targeted air strikes.

The group, whose lightning advance through swathes of the two countries and declaration that it had established a new caliphate stunned world leaders in 2014, is now girding for an offensive against Iraq's Mosul, its most prized possession.

The rebels, backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes, took Dabiq and neighboring Soran after clashes on Sunday morning, said Ahmed Osman, head of the Sultan Murad group, one of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions involved in the fighting.

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

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said that Dabiq's liberation was a "strategic and symbolic victory" against Islamic State.

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