The Latest: Russia denies its warplanes hit Syria hospital

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The Latest on the civil war in Syria (all times local):

12:50 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman has rebuffed claims that Russian warplanes struck a hospital in northern Syria.

Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that this was another case of those who make such accusations against Russia being unable to back up their claims and said they should rely on official announcements from the Syrian government.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian warplanes targeted the hospital in Idlib province, destroying it and killing nine people.

On Monday night, France's new foreign minister said attacks like the one on the hospital "could constitute war crimes."


11:25 a.m.

Syrian government forces and a predominantly Kurdish coalition of fighters have advanced and captured more areas from an array of insurgent groups in the country's north.

Syria's state news agency SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that government forces took the villages of Ahras and Misqan in the northern province of Aleppo.

Separately, members of the Syria Democratic Forces, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish groups, captured the major town of Tel Rifaat, one of the largest strongholds of militants in Aleppo province. After Tel Rifaat, SDF fighters also took the nearby village of Kfar Naseh just south of the town.

Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have pressed a major offensive north of Aleppo since the start of February.