Europe

IS captures several villages from Syrian troops in Aleppo

  • Mohammed Alloush, chief negotiator for the main Syrian opposition body and rebel group Army of Islam, listens during a briefing after a round of negotiation between the Syrian opposition and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 15, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

    Mohammed Alloush, chief negotiator for the main Syrian opposition body and rebel group Army of Islam, listens during a briefing after a round of negotiation between the Syrian opposition and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 15, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Asaad Al-Zoubi, center, head of the Syrian opposition delegation of High Negotiations Committee (HNC) speaks to the media with George Sabra, left, Syrian opposition Deputy Head of High Negotiations Committee (HNC), and High Negotiations Committee (HNC) spokesman Salem al-Meslet, right, after a round of negotiation between the Syrian opposition and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 15, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

    Asaad Al-Zoubi, center, head of the Syrian opposition delegation of High Negotiations Committee (HNC) speaks to the media with George Sabra, left, Syrian opposition Deputy Head of High Negotiations Committee (HNC), and High Negotiations Committee (HNC) spokesman Salem al-Meslet, right, after a round of negotiation between the Syrian opposition and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 15, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Asaad Al-Zoubi, right, head of the Syrian opposition delegation of High Negotiations Committee (HNC), speaks to the media next to George Sabra, left, Syrian opposition Deputy Head of High Negotiations Committee (HNC), during a briefing after a round of negotiation between the Syrian government and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 15, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

    Asaad Al-Zoubi, right, head of the Syrian opposition delegation of High Negotiations Committee (HNC), speaks to the media next to George Sabra, left, Syrian opposition Deputy Head of High Negotiations Committee (HNC), during a briefing after a round of negotiation between the Syrian government and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 15, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has captured several villages in the northern province of Aleppo during clashes with government forces.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting is concentrated in areas east of the town of Khanaser, which has exchanged hands several times in recent months.

An activist based in Aleppo says IS launched its latest offensive in the area a day earlier and by Saturday was in control of some 18 small villages.

The activist spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from IS.

Khanaser is strategic since it's on the highway that links government-held parts of Aleppo with the rest of the country.