Beirut/Ankara: Fighting between IS militants and Syrian rebels near the Turkish border has killed dozens of people in the last two days, as IS militants keep up an offensive that has led to rapid territorial gains, a monitoring group said on Saturday.
Militants from the rebel group entered the rebel-held town of Marea early on Saturday, using at least two car bombs in the assault, and clashes continued later in the day, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
An advance by the extremists on Friday that cut Marea off from another key insurgent-held town, Azaz, was their biggest territorial gain in the northern province of Aleppo for two years, the Observatory said.
IS has been battling rebel factions fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army since late last year, but clashes have intensified in recent weeks.
The fighting in the past two days has killed at least 27 civilians as well as 41 combatants, the Observatory said.
A US-led coalition fighting IS carried out air raids on some of their positions in one of the villages that the extremists had captured, it said.
The coalition is meanwhile backing fighters, including the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, in an offensive against IS in the northern countryside of neighbouring Raqqa province, which is home to the group's de facto capital, Raqqa city. (Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Helen Popper)
Meanwhile, Turkish and US-led coalition airstrikes killed 104 Islamic State militants in retaliation for the latest attack on a Turkish border province, Turkish media reported on Saturday, citing military sources.
Pro-government Sabah Daily news reported five people were injured on Friday when rockets fired from IS controlled territory in northern Syria hit Turkey's border province of Kilis.
Kilis has been hit by rockets from IS more than 70 times since January, killing 21 people including children, in what security officials say has gone from accidental spillover to deliberate targeting.
IS captured more ground near the Turkish border from Syrian rebels on Friday, raising fears for a new wave of civilians fleeing the fighting.