ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey-backed Syrian rebels seized control of nine areas, including the village of Dabiq, from Islamic State on Sunday, largely achieving border security between the Turkish towns of Kilis and Karkamis, the country’s military said on Monday.
Taking control of Dabiq had eliminated the threat to Turkey from rockets fired by the jihadists, the Turkish Armed Forces said in a written statement.
It said that in the last 24 hours of clashes, nine Turkey-backed rebels were killed and 24 were wounded while “many” Islamic State fighters were killed. The operation, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” was launched in late August.
The Syrian rebels, backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes, said they had taken Dabiq after clashes on Sunday morning, forcing Islamic State from a stronghold where it had promised to fight a final, apocalyptic battle with the West.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Sunday Dabiq’s liberation was a “strategic and symbolic victory” against Islamic State.
He told Reuters it was important strategically that the Turkey-backed forces continue their advance toward the Islamic State stronghold of al-Bab.
Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Editing by Daren Butler and Simon Cameron-Moore