The Observatory said that on Friday Islamic State jihadists had seized 60 Kurdish villages near the Turkish border in a lightning two-day campaign as they close in on Ain al-Arab.

The town in Aleppo province is Syria's third largest Kurdish town, and would give IS control of a long stretch of the country's northern border with Turkey.

The fighting in the area has prompted an exodus of residents, many of whom have sought to cross into Turkey, which opened its border on Friday.

The Observatory said the fighting was continuing and reported "heavy clashes" in the area around Ain al-Arab.

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