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ISIL fighters seize key towns in eastern Syria: Monitoring group

Published on Jun 21, 2014 12:03 AM
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on June 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Friday captured key towns in eastern Syria adjoining territory the Al-Qaeda splinter group has seized in Iraq, a monitoring organisation said.

The Islamists, whose stated aim is to create a strict Islamic state straddling national borders, took over the towns of Muhassan, Albulil and Albuomar, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

ISIL, which opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has also been fighting rival rebel groups in Deir al-Zor, an oil-producing eastern province of Syria devastated by the three-year-old civil war.

The newly captured towns are in an area running along the Euphrates River that links Syria and Iraq and are significant because they are close to Deir al-Zor's military airport and the Syrian city of al-Mayadin, the Observatory's Mr Rami Abdurrahman said. "If you control al-Mayadin, this means there are no more important cities except Abu Kamal out of (ISIL) control," in the province, he said, referring to another town close to the Syria-Iraq border. "They are pushing forward."

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