Islamic State takes Syrian town as fighting looks set to intensify

Islamic State fighters drove Syrian government forces from a western town on November 1, a monitoring group reported, as fighting escalated despite a flurry of diplomatic activity and talks between regional rivals.

Syrian parties to the multi-sided conflict said they saw no end to fighting between rebels and the government despite talks in Vienna on October 30 that included Iran for the first time.

Iran's supreme leader meanwhile said elections should be held to end the war, echoing a proposal by Russia that has been dismissed by President Bashar al-Assad's opponents as a ruse by his allies to keep him in power.

It all underlines the intractable state of the four-year-long war that has killed 250,000 people and driven more than half the population from their homes, causing a refugee crisis in neighbouring states and Europe.

Talks between world powers in Vienna on October 30 adjourned with calls for a nationwide ceasefire but key differences remained between rivals backing opposing sides.