BEIRUT Syrian government forces and their allies launched an attack in Hama province in the west of the country on Wednesday as fighting spread days after a ceasefire collapsed, rebels, monitors and pro-Damascus media said.
Clashes between the government side and insurgents were concentrated in the northern Hama countryside.
"It is a very intense attack, for which Russian jets paved the way, but it was repelled by the brothers, praise God," Abu al-Baraa al-Hamawi, a rebel commander fighting as part of the Islamist Jaish al-Fatah alliance, told Reuters.
He said rebels had destroyed four tanks and inflicted heavy losses on government forces. The fighting had grown more intense through the morning.
Insurgents fighting in the area include jihadist group Jund al-Aqsa.
Syrian state TV and Al Manar TV, which belongs to Damascus ally Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, said government forces had killed a number of insurgents and destroyed their vehicles.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported advances by government forces in the area.
(Reporting by John Davison and Tom Perry; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)