Friday, October 9, 2015 9:51 pm
The Islamic State militia advanced in Aleppo, taking several villages and towns from rebel groups in the north of the Syrian province, a monitoring group said on Friday.
The advances by the extremist militia come despite continued airstrikes against the group by US-led coalition forces, ongoing for over a year.
Russia too says it is attacking Islamic State positions, though Moscow appears to be primarily focused on aiding its ally President Bashar al-Assad in his fight against rebels and securing the western coastal area where it has a naval base.
Rami Abdel Rahman, Head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the latest push by the extremist militia is “one of the biggest advances the Islamic State has scored in months.”
He said there were more airstrikes in the areas where it was on the move.
Several major Syrian rebel forces in Aleppo, including hardline Islamic militias, are fighting both al-Assad and the Islamic State group.
The rebels rely on holding key routes in northern Aleppo so that they have access to Turkey from where they can be re-supplied.
The Islamic State has lost much of its central and eastern border area with Turkey over the past year, largely in heavy fights with Kurdish forces who are backed by the US-led coalition.
However, it continues to move westward towards Aleppo, where rebel forces hold parts of the divided city, with al-Assad controlling the other neighbourhoods and outlying villages.
Turkey, a key backer of forces opposing al-Assad, has been concerned that Islamic State could take the main border crossing area in Aleppo province.
The rebels have managed to take the north-western Idlib province from al-Assad’s forces, but are now facing Russian airstrikes in the area.