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The Latest: UN says Syrian government returning to talks

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BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

An adviser to the U.N. envoy for Syria says a government delegation is expected to return to Geneva on Sunday for U.N.-mediated peace talks.

The delegation led by Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar al-Ja'afari, left the talks last week for a weekend pause and did not return on Tuesday — the day that U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura had set for the resumption.

De Mistura adviser Michael Contet said by phone Wednesday: "We have received notification from the government that its delegation will fly to Geneva on the 10th."

The opposition has remained in Geneva and has met with de Mistura's team. Opposition spokesman Yahya Aridi acknowledged "it takes two to tango."

This eighth round of intra-Syrian talks mediated by de Mistura since early 2016 is set to end Dec. 15.


6 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Islamic State group in eastern Syria has suffered a "complete defeat."

Putin, speaking on a visit to Nizhny Novgorod, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to him earlier Wednesday that operations against the IS on both the western and eastern banks of the Euphrates River had been successfully completed.

Putin said some isolated pockets of resistance could remain in the area.

The Russian military says it has provided air support to Kurdish forces and local tribes in the oil-rich province of Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria and helped coordinate their offensive against the IS.

Russia launched an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in 2015.


5:30 p.m.

Syrian activists say airstrikes have killed at least 12 civilians in an eastern Syrian village held by the Islamic State group.

Deir Ezzor 24 says Tuesday's attack targeted the village of al-Jarthi. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 21 civilians were killed, among them 9 children. It says Russia carried out the strikes, in support of U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces driving to capture IS territory on the Euphrates River.

The extremist group still controls patches of territory in eastern Syria, where it imposes a media blackout.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Sunday thanked both the U.S. and Russia for their military support, days after the U.S. announced it would stop arming the group.

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