Syrian-based affiliates of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) gained control of several key towns on the country's eastern border near Iraq, according to Reuters Friday.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS took over control of Muhasan, Alboulil and Alboumar Friday near the Euphrates river that links the border towns to neighboring Iraq. The towns are also located near a key military airport in Deir Al Zor and the critical stronghold of Mayadin, according to the Observatory.
"If you control Al Mayadin, this means there are no more important cities except [the border city of] Abu Kamal out of (ISIS) control [in the province]," Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Observatory reported. "They are pushing forward."
ISIS, which opposed the Syrian regime, but who has also been in conflict with other rebel groups, has received heightened media attention over the past few weeks due to the groups' growing presence and control in neighboring Iraq.
The jihadist group, which is no longer linked to al-Qaeda, has been clashing with regime and rebel forces in eastern Syria for months, particularly in the oil-producing province of Deir Al Zor.