Islamic State (Isis) fighters have captured villages and besieged a Kurdish city in northern Syria near the border with Turkey in a major assault that prompted a commander to appeal for military aid from other Kurds in the region.

With the United States planning to expand military action against Isis from Iraq to Syria, a surveillance drone was spotted for the first time over nearby Isis-controlled territory in Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s civil war, said on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear who was operating the drone.

President Barack Obama said last week that he would not hesitate to strike the radical Islamist group that has used Syria as a base to advance its plan to reshape the Middle East.

The US is conducting air strikes against Isis in Iraq and last month Obama authorised surveillance flights over Syria.

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