World

Intense fighting in central Syria amid government territorial gains

  • Syrian army personnel load howitzers near the village of Morek, Syria on Wednesday, Oct.  7, 2015. The Syrian army has launched an offensive against rebels earlier in the week in central and northwestern Syria aided by Russian airstrikes. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)

    Syrian army personnel load howitzers near the village of Morek, Syria on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. The Syrian army has launched an offensive against rebels earlier in the week in central and northwestern Syria aided by Russian airstrikes. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, a bomb is released from Russian Su-34 strike fighter in Syria. Activists report intense fighting between insurgents and Syrian troops in the country’s center amid new territorial gains for the government, backed by Russian airstrikes. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

    In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, a bomb is released from Russian Su-34 strike fighter in Syria. Activists report intense fighting between insurgents and Syrian troops in the country‚Äôs center amid new territorial gains for the government, backed by Russian airstrikes. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to  Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, during their meeting after the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. (Alexei Nikolsky, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, during their meeting after the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. (Alexei Nikolsky, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Activists report intense fighting between insurgents and Syrian troops in the country's center amid new territorial gains for the government, backed by Russian airstrikes.

The fighting Sunday is on multiple fronts in the northern part of the central province of Hama and southern Idlib, the province controlled by a coalition of rebel groups.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says there were also intense clashes and Russian airstrikes in rural Latakia, the coastal province that is a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The fighting comes after government troops seized two villages in central Syria, Atshan and Tal Sukayk, between Hama and Idlib. The Observatory said the rebels advanced on a hill overlooking Atshan overnight.

Russia started launching airstrikes in Syria on Sept.30, facilitating the government ground offensive.