Kurds say Islamic State seizes Syrian villages near Turkish border

BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Islamic State (ISIS) fighters have seized 16 Kurdish villages in northern Syria in a major advance towards the city of Ayn al-Arab at the border with Turkey, a Kurdish military official and a group that tracks the civil war said on Thursday.

Ocalan Iso, a commander in Kurdish armed group YPG, told Reuters that ISIS fighters were using heavy weapons including tanks in their attack near the city, known as Kobani in Kurdish.

Rami Abdulrahman, founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the villages had been seized in an Islamic State advance that started on Wednesday. "They have a large number of fighters," he told Reuters by phone.

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