Jihadists closing in on Syrian rebel stronghold
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Jihadists closing in on Syrian rebel stronghold

Islamic State fighters capture three villages in north of country, making serious advances in Aleppo province

This undated file photo posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from extremist Islamic State group during a parade in Raqqa, Syria (AP/Raqqa Media Center, File)
This undated file photo posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from extremist Islamic State group during a parade in Raqqa, Syria (AP/Raqqa Media Center, File)

Activists say fighters from the Islamic State extremist group have captured three villages in northern Syria as they close in on a stronghold of rival rebels.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday the jihadi group’s gunmen overran the village of Maled near the town of Marea in Aleppo province late Friday.

Fayez Abu Quteibah, an activist in the area, said the group also captured two other villages near Marea — Hamidiyeh and Sonbol.

Those gains come days after the extremists overran several other villages and two towns in Aleppo province.

The Islamic State group’s ultimate goal appears to be Marea itself, which is a stronghold of the once-powerful Islamic Front rebel group that has been fighting the jihadists since January.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press

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