By: Genevieve Casagrande
Turkey continues to position its allied opposition forces as powerbrokers in the fight against ISIS in order to counter Kurdish influence in northern Syria. Coalition-backed opposition forces seized the town of Dabiq from ISIS on October 16 as part of the Turkish-led operation Euphrates Shield. The recapture of Dabiq represents a symbolic loss for ISIS as the town holds symbolic significance for the jihadist group as the site of a future apocalyptic battle against the West. For Turkey, the recapture further solidifies its hold over the Syrian-Turkish border in northern Aleppo. Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Turkish-allied opposition factions have expressed their intent to next push south to seize the ISIS-held town of Al Bab, likely to preempt the predominantly Kurdish U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from establishing a contiguous zone of control connecting the Afrin and Kobani Cantons in northern Aleppo Province. Turkish-backed opposition forces are particularly susceptible to penetration by al Qaeda, however, and their success against ISIS can undermine U.S. objectives in Syria over the long term.