Free Syrian Army fighters in northern Syria in September. Photo: Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Turkish-backed rebel groups in northern Syria have come within 3 kilometres of the strategic Dabiq town, according to reports.
“Rebels backed by Turkish forces and airstrikes were able to reach Turkman Bareh town and take control of the town,” reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday.
Turkman Bareh is 11 kilometres southwest of the border town of al-Rai, and just a few kilometres east of Dabiq.
Dabiq is a small northern Syrian village that is a theological heartland for Islamic State (ISIS). According to one reading of ISIS doctrine, the final battle between good and evil will take place here. US special forces were reportedly headed towards Dabiq in mid-September.
The US-led coalition has confirmed it is supporting the offensive for Dabiq. US special envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, tweeted on Sunday that they are "actively supporting" the operation.
The Observatory noted that ISIS had reinforced its forces in Dabiq, sending an additional 800 militants there in April.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Sunday that Turkish jets had bombed seven targets in northern Syria, including in Turkman Bareh, killing four ISIS militants.