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.