Islamic State Group Retakes Syrian Town in North from Rebels

This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP, File)
This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP, File)

BEIRUT -- Islamic State fighters on Monday retook control of a northern town along Syria's border with Turkey, just days after losing it to rebel forces and allied militants, opposition activists said.

The recapture of al-Rai shows the Islamic State group is still capable of launching counterattacks even as the extremists come under pressure on different fronts in areas IS controls in Iraq and Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Today TV station said the IS extremists captured al-Rai early on Monday morning after intense fighting for the frontier town.

Al-Rai is strategically located on the border with Turkey, serving as the Islamic State group's access point to supply lines. It also sits along the road to the IS stronghold in Aleppo province.

The Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman said IS fighters also captured six villages near al-Rai on Monday. IS lost the town last Thursday after an offensive by rebels and militant groups allied with them, including al-Qaida's branch in Syria known as the Nusra Front.

IS has lost wide areas in Iraq and Syria recently, including the historic central town of Palmyra that was captured by Syrian government forces and their allies recently.

The extremists have also suffered leadership setbacks as U.S. drone strikes in Syria have killed several top IS and Nusra Front commanders and key figures in recent weeks.

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