Russian warplanes flew over rebel-held areas near Hama, Syria in a rush to aid pro-regime Syrian forces losing ground, a Syrian source told Reuters on Friday.
State media later reported that regime forces allegedly recaptured all positions it had lost earlier, which is strategically accredited to accompanying Russian aerial bombardment of rebel sites.
Syrian opposition forces have previously made sweeping advances after leading a fierce assault in the north of the Jobar district of Damascus.
Rebel groups launched the attack on Tuesday and have captured at least 11 villages and towns, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based organization that reports on the war.
It marks the biggest attack by rebels in months. Rebel gains have shown the challenge facing the Syrian pro-regime forces and allied militia as they fight on numerous fronts.
“Air strikes have now started, and there is concentrated artillery firing against the armed groups and the headquarters of their leaders and supply lines, paving the way for the counter-attack,” the military source told Reuters.
“The Russians are, of course, participating in these raids.” Rebel groups were focusing their attack on Friday on the village of Qomhana, some 8 km , north of Hama city, Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said.
The fighting has underscored the bleak prospects for a new round of United Nations sponsored peace talks that are underway in Geneva.