Europe

The Latest: Moscow denies bombing Syrian civilians, rebels

The Latest on the conflict in Syria and the provisional cease-fire proposed by the U.S. and Russia that is to go into effect at midnight (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

The Kremlin has denied allegations that Russia's air force bombed civilian positions east of Damascus on the eve of the ceasefire.

During a call with journalists, President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied accusations made by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that Russia launched airstrikes over the rebel-held town of Douma on Thursday evening.

Peskov says this wasn't "the first time this observation group has published unconfirmed information that isn't backed up by facts."

He added that Russia will continue its military operation in Syria against terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, al-Qaida's branch known as the Nusra Front and others on the U.N. Security Council's list.

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11 a.m.

Syria's state media and an opposition monitoring group say government forces have captured several villages from Islamic State extremists in the northern province of Aleppo.

The SANA news agency says government troops on Friday took three villages near the town of Khanaser, which they recaptured from the IS group the previous day.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that two villages were taken by the government troops, saying they are working to open the only road linking the city of Aleppo with central and western Syria.

The fighting comes ahead of a cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia, which is to go into effect at midnight. IS is not included in the cease-fire.

IS attacked the Khanaser area Monday, capturing the town only to lose it Thursday.