Reuters International

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State fighters captured territory from Syrian rebels in an area near the Turkish border on Friday and were close to cutting off an insurgent-held town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The jihadists seized a number of villages around the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, and had almost fully encircled it, the British-based monitoring group said.

The advance also brought them closer to Azaz, a town 6 km (4 miles) from Turkey. Rebel groups battling Islamic State in the area, which Washington sees as strategically vital, have been supplied with weapons via Turkey.

(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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 Reuters International