Beirut: A Sunni extremist group in Syria took over opposition-held areas of a provincial capital near the border with Iraq on Monday after expelling rival fighters from an al Qaeda-linked group, activists said.
The march by militants of the Islamic State group on the city of Deir el-Zour brings them closer to a showdown with President Bashar Assad`s forces.
They recently captured cities and towns in northern Iraq and merged them with much of the territory under its control in eastern Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said militants from IS took over the area from fighters of the rival al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front group, who withdrew after clashes.
The new developments effectively expand and consolidate areas held by fighters from the Islamic State group in territory straddling the border between the two conflict-ridden countries of Syria and Iraq.
The group, which now controls large parts of northern Syria, is almost in full control of oil-rich Deir el-Zour province in the east, stretching from the Syrian border town of Boukamal to the provincial capital to the northwest.
Assad`s forces still control half of Deir el-Zour city, and no fighting between his troops and the extremist group was reported there.