Activists: Syria troops advance under Russian air cover

BEIRUT: Activists say Russian jets have intensified their airstrikes in a central Syrian province as government and allied troops push out insurgents from the area.

The advance Monday is the latest in a government bid to regain control of areas in the rural parts of Hama, and the Sahl al-Ghab plain. The plain links Hama to the northwestern rebel-controlled Idlib province and Latakia, a government stronghold.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 30 airstrikes were reported in Kfar Nabudeh, while government troops and Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters entered from the south.

During the last six days of ground operations, government troops have moved in on two villages in eastern Hama, Atshan and Tal Sukayk, and a third in the plain area. Activists say rebels seized one village south of Idlib.