The Syrian army and its allies launched a counteroffensive to recapture a village south of the city of Aleppo, which was overrun by rebel fighters days earlier, activists said on Wednesday.
Fighting outside Aleppo, the country's second-largest city, has been the worst since a partial ceasefire agreement came into effect in late February, and has threatened to completely derail the agreement, which greatly reduced overall violence in Syria.
The fighting pits Syrian government forces and allied Lebanese Hezbollah militiamen against rebels, including the al-Nusra Front group. The al-Qaeda branch is excluded from the truce along with its rival, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
READ MORE: Syria war: Attack on Kurdish town kills 18
Russian aircraft hit Nusra Front positions near Aleppo, thwarting an attempted offensive, Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
It also said as many as 1,500 fighters controlled by Nusra Front attacked Kurdish fighters in Aleppo, killing 18 civilians and 11 of the fighters.
Syrian activist groups said the push near Aleppo, which started late on Tuesday, is aimed at retaking the village of Tel al-Ais, which overlooks the Damascus-Aleppo highway. The village was captured on Monday by rebels allied with Nusra Front.
| Syrian rebels mount offensive against government forces in Aleppo