BEIRUT — Activists say Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes are battling insurgents in central Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says a government offensive began on four fronts Wednesday in the northwestern provinces of Idlib and neighboring Hama. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman says it is "the most intense fighting in months."
Activist Ahmad al-Ahmad, who is currently in Idlib, says government troops are "heavily" shelling central areas after rebels attacked an army post and destroyed a tank.
The latest developments come exactly a week after Russia began launching airstrikes in Syria.
Moscow says it is targeting the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, but at least some of the strikes appear to have hit Western-backed rebel factions.
In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 photo released by the Rased News Network, a Facebook account affiliated with Islamic State militants, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, people gather at the site of an airstrike in Al-Bab on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said warplanes believed to be Russian have targeted the northern town of Al-Bab that is a stronghold of the Islamic State group. The Arabic at the bottom reads, "The destruction that was caused by airstrikes of the Crusader-Alawite coalition on the town of Al-Bab." (Rased News Network via AP)
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