Europe

The Latest: Syrian government ready for more prisoner swaps

FILE -- In this April 14, 2016 file photo, Russian soldiers stand on a road as smoke rises from a controlled land mine detonation by Russian experts inside the ancient town of Palmyra, Syria in the central Homs province. Russia's defense ministry has released drone footage Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, showing new damage to Palmyra's archaeological site. The Islamic State group recaptured the ancient town in December from government troops, nine months after they were expelled in a Russia-backed offensive. The defense ministry said the footage was filmed earlier this month and showed a central section of Palmyra's famous theater lying in ruins. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

FILE -- In this April 14, 2016 file photo, Russian soldiers stand on a road as smoke rises from a controlled land mine detonation by Russian experts inside the ancient town of Palmyra, Syria in the central Homs province. Russia's defense ministry has released drone footage Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, showing new damage to Palmyra's archaeological site. The Islamic State group recaptured the ancient town in December from government troops, nine months after they were expelled in a Russia-backed offensive. The defense ministry said the footage was filmed earlier this month and showed a central section of Palmyra's famous theater lying in ruins. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

The Syrian government says it is ready to release prisoners it is holding in exchange for civilians or troops held by insurgents.

Syrian state TV quoted an unnamed official as saying the offer comes ahead of a peace conference scheduled to take place later this month.

Monday's announcement comes a week after the Syrian government and rebels exchanged dozens of people including women and children who were held by insurgents for years.

The unnamed Syrian official said the offer comes ahead of a two-day meeting later this week in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry has invited government and opposition officials and delegates from Russia, Turkey, and Iran for preparatory talks in Astana on Thursday and Friday ahead of further talks in Geneva later.

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11:15 a.m.

Russia's defense ministry has released drone footage showing new damage to Palmyra's archaeological site in Syria.

The Islamic State group recaptured the ancient town in December from government troops, nine months after they were expelled in a Russia-backed offensive. Moscow last week said Syrian government forces were advancing toward Palmyra thanks to Russian air cover.

Drone footage released on Monday that the defense ministry said was filmed earlier this month showed a central section of Palmyra's famous theater lying in ruins.

The ministry said their drones also recorded significant truck movements in the area around the archaeological site, which it said could mean that the IS militants are delivering explosives to the site and want to cause more destruction to it.