Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have begun attacking the ISIL-held village of Dabiq.
The small town, prophesied to be the site of the apocalypse in the Hadith, is of little military significance to ISIL. However the group has stationed around one thousand two hundred fighters in the town and the surrounding area has been scattered with mines.
The assault begins as tensions between Turkey and Iraq over the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa military camp near Mosul continue to grow.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Iraq’s central government cannot drive ISIL out of Mosul alone.
The offensive is expected to begin imminently, although Turkey and Iraq can’t agree on who should take part in the US-backed assault.
The scene of the apocalypse
According to Islamic prophesy detailed in the Hadith, Dabiq is to be the site of an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and infidel Christians.
Abu Hurayrah reported in his hadith that the prophet Muhammad said: “The Last Hour would not come until the Romans land at al-A’maq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best of the people of the earth at that time will come from Medina.”
While the small village is of little military consequence to ISIL, losing control of it would spell a
significant ideological blow.
The group has stationed close to 1,200 fighters in the town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and land mines have been placed in the surrounding countryside.