Islamic State has taken over a Syrian town southeast of Homs, its first major success since capturing Palmyra, a World Heritage site, in May 2015, about 100km to the northeast.

At least 230 people are reported to have been abducted from Al-Quaryatayn, a town of 40,000 mainly Sunni Muslims and Christians.

The BBC reports that ISIS appears to hold lists of local people sympathetic to the Syrian government.

Local activists report about 60 Christians among the abducted; an Assyrian source in Sweden, quoting a local Syriac-Church source, says as many as 250 may have been taken.

The population of the town has been swollen by refugees from Aleppo and further north.