The locality of Dabiq in north Aleppo countryside became famous in world media on account of the Islamic State's takeover of the village in summer 2014 and the group's promotion of Dabiq in relation to Islamic eschatology. Indeed the Islamic State's unique English-language magazine was called Dabiq.
The Islamic State was driven out of Dabiq in October 2016 by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces. In my view it is important that we do not solely associate Dabiq with the Islamic State. We should also show interest in Dabiq as a village with people still living in it as life goes on. To learn more about the current situation in Dabiq, I conducted an interview on 27 July 2019 with Muhammad Jamal Hamidi, the head of the local council in Dabiq. The interview is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: Can you tell me a little about Dabiq generally? The number of inhabitants currently and the main families etc.
A: The locality of Dabiq is a historic locality and is around 30 km away from Aleppo city. The fifth of the Caliphs- al-Rasheed Omar Ibn Abd al-Aziz- visited it and stayed in it and built in it a mosque and it has been named after him presently. And in it arose the famous battle- the battle of Marj Dabiq of 1516. The number of its inhabitants has exceed around 13500 people and the most prominent families present in it are:
And there is a camp for those displaced by Assad's criminality.
Q: When was the local council for the locality of Dabiq formed in its current form? What is its structure?
A: Regarding the formation of the council, the latest formation was around 6 months ago, of course by mutual agreement in view of the circumstances of the war. And the structure of the council is as follows:
Head of the council
Q: What are the greatest accomplishments of the local council for the locality of Dabiq recently? And what are the coming projects if God wills?
A: Regarding the services, they are embodied in pumping water to the locality and working to repair the sewage system and the public facilities and clean them. The greatest accomplishments are:
- Expansion of the water network and repairing the damage.
- Repairing the sewage system.
- Paving the entrance of the locality for coming and going with repair of the sewage [system] and levelling the ground.
And if God wills we will work to document projects among them the building of a rain tank (hawouz), digging a new well, and paving or renovating the roads inside the locality.
Q: What are the greatest challenges the locality of Dabiq is facing in the services realm and humanitarian situation?
A: As for the difficulties facing us from the realm of services, they are the deficiency of heavy vehicles. As for the humanitarian situation, obstacles face us of which the most important is unemployment and the most recent material and moral support.
Q: How does the Syrian interim government help you in serving the sons of the locality?
A: Regarding the Syrian [interim] government, the aid is almost non-existent and it is of course according to the capabilities they have.