World

Syrian troops launch fresh offensive in central province of Homs

  • In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, Syrian army personnel prepare artillery ammunition in Latakia province, about 12 miles from the border with Turkey, Syria. Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army has launched an offensive in central and northwestern regions.  (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)

    In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, Syrian army personnel prepare artillery ammunition in Latakia province, about 12 miles from the border with Turkey, Syria. Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army has launched an offensive in central and northwestern regions. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, Syrian army personnel fire a machine gun in Latakia province, about 12 miles from the border with Turkey, Syria. Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army has launched an offensive in central and northwestern regions.  (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)

    In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, Syrian army personnel fire a machine gun in Latakia province, about 12 miles from the border with Turkey, Syria. Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army has launched an offensive in central and northwestern regions. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this November 24, 2011 file photo, a pro-Syrian regime protester holds a placard showing the Iranian and Syrian flags with Arabic words reading: "Thanks Iran," during a protest in front the Iranian embassy to thank Iran for their support of the Syrian regime, in Damascus, Syria. Hundreds of Iranian troops are being deployed in northern and central Syria, dramatically escalating Tehran’s involvement in the civil war as they join allied Hezbollah fighters in an ambitious offensive to wrest key areas from rebels amid Russian airstrikes. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman, File)

    FILE - In this November 24, 2011 file photo, a pro-Syrian regime protester holds a placard showing the Iranian and Syrian flags with Arabic words reading: "Thanks Iran," during a protest in front the Iranian embassy to thank Iran for their support of the Syrian regime, in Damascus, Syria. Hundreds of Iranian troops are being deployed in northern and central Syria, dramatically escalating Tehran’s involvement in the civil war as they join allied Hezbollah fighters in an ambitious offensive to wrest key areas from rebels amid Russian airstrikes. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman, File)  (The Associated Press)

Activists and state media say Syrian government forces have launched an offensive in the central province of Homs under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

Syrian state TV said troops captured the town of Khaldiyeh near the central city of Hama and killed several militants in the village of Teir Maalah near the city of Homs, Syria's third largest.

Homs-based activist Bebars al-Talawy said the offensive began early Thursday and was preceded by intense air strikes and shelling.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian warplanes conducted at least 15 airstrikes on the edge of the rebel-held town of Talbiseh and nearby areas killing 10 people including six opposition fighters.

Syrian troops launched offensives in Idlib and Hama provinces last week under the cover of Russian airstrikes.