Europe

Syrian rebels launch offensive against government

  • Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, arrives for a round of negotiations between the Syrian government and the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool Photo via AP)

    Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, arrives for a round of negotiations between the Syrian government and the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the United Nations speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of negotiations between the Syrian government and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

    Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the United Nations speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of negotiations between the Syrian government and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • A member of the Syrian government holds a bag with the colors of the Syrian flag during a press conference of the Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN after a round of negotiations between the Syrian government and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

    A member of the Syrian government holds a bag with the colors of the Syrian flag during a press conference of the Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN after a round of negotiations between the Syrian government and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Syrian activists and rebels say opposition fighters have launched a new offensive against government forces in a number of areas in the country's northwest.

Rebels groups said in a statement Monday that the attacks in rural parts of the Latakia province, a government stronghold, are in retaliation for violations of a fragile cease-fire that began in late February.

Other fighters attacked government positions in the rural part of the adjacent Hama province.

The U.S. and Russian-brokered cease-fire had reduced violence across Syria despite alleged violations on both sides. The opposition says the government has breached the agreement more than 2,000 times.

The cease-fire was intended to facilitate talks in Geneva, which resumed last week. A Syrian opposition member in Geneva, Mohammed al-Abboud, says they have the right to defend themselves.