DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Islamic State militants have reportedly captured Akhtarin and Turkmanbareh, two strategic towns in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, and taken over villages from the Syrian opposition.
If confirmed, IS has gained more territory in the north following the July seizure of an army base in Raqqa.
IS seized Akhtarin and Turkmanbareh overnight, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and also took over the villages of Masoudiyeh, Dabiq and Ghouz from opposition forces.
With control of these towns and villages, IS could be in a position to interrupt the supply lines of the Syrian rebels.
The Syrian rebels have bee fighting the Assad regime since 2011, but the rise of Islamic extremists has complicated the civil war, pushing out the opposition as IS militants make territorial gains in the north and the government launches an offensive in the south. The conflict has so far claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced over nine million.