Fighters from ISIL have captured three villages in northern Syria, as they intensified fighting and close in on Syrian rebel strongholds Saturday.
According to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and independent activists, ISIL took the village of Maled near the town of Marea, a Syrian rebel-held town in the Aleppo province. Two other villages near Marea, Hamidiyeh and Sonbol, have also reportedly been captured.
This week, ISIL fighters captured the towns of Akhtarin and Turkmanbareh from the rebels, who are fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Capturing Marea appears to be ISIL's immediate objective. A northern town with a population of less than 20,000 people according to the latest census data, Marea is the main base of the Islamic Front, the main rebel group responsible for simultaneously fighting the Assad regime and ISIL. It is also the main supply town for rebels in other parts of Syria.