18 IS jihadists killed fighting Syria Kurds: monitor

Syrian Kurds cross the border between Syria and Turkey in Sanliurfa province, on September 19, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ilyas Akengin)

Beirut (AFP) - At least 18 jihadists from the Islamic State group were killed in overnight clashes with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria near a strategic border, a monitoring group said Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 18 militants, reportedly including one of Chinese nationality, were killed in fighting near the town of Ain al-Arab, known to the Kurds as Kobane.

The Observatory said Friday that 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 on Saturday and reported "heavy clashes" in the area around Ain al-Arab.

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