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Syrian troops battle insurgents as Russian warplanes strike in central Syria, activists say

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. Shoigu on Wednesday told President Vladimir Putin in televised remarks that Russia on Wednesday morning carried out 26 missile strikes from four warships of its Caspian Sea flotilla. Shoigu insisted that it destroyed all the targets and did perform any strikes on civilian areas. (Alexei Nikolsky, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. Shoigu on Wednesday told President Vladimir Putin in televised remarks that Russia on Wednesday morning carried out 26 missile strikes from four warships of its Caspian Sea flotilla. Shoigu insisted that it destroyed all the targets and did perform any strikes on civilian areas. (Alexei Nikolsky, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

    In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four┬áRussian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

    In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four┬áRussian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)  (The Associated Press)

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.