Europe

The Latest: UN does not expect breakthrough at Syria talks

  • UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura informs the media one day before the resumption of the negotiation between the Syrian government and the opposition, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura informs the media one day before the resumption of the negotiation between the Syrian government and the opposition, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura informs the media one day before the resumption of the negotiation between the Syrian government and the opposition, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura informs the media one day before the resumption of the negotiation between the Syrian government and the opposition, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives to inform the media one day before the resumption of the negotiation between the Syrian government and the opposition, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives to inform the media one day before the resumption of the negotiation between the Syrian government and the opposition, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

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

4:40 p.m.

The U.N. envoy for Syria says he's not expecting a breakthrough in the first peace talks under U.N. supervision in 10 months.

Staffan de Mistura spoke Wednesday, on the eve of planned talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the opposition.

De Mistura said he was "determined" to maintain "a very proactive momentum" in the talks, which will focus on new elections, a new constitution and governance in the country, riven by nearly six years of war.

He said he sees the meetings as "the beginning of a series of rounds" that will allow negotiators to "go much more in depth on the substantive issues that are required for a political solution."

De Mistura called off the last round of U.N.-sponsored talks in April amid an upsurge in fighting.

___

11:40 a.m.

Russia's defense minister has hailed the military's performance in Syria, saying new Russian weapons have proven their worth in the conflict.

Sergei Shoigu told the Russian parliament Wednesday that the military has tested 162 types of weapons in Syria, and only 10 of them have failed to meet expectations.

Shoigu said Russian pilots have flown 1,760 combat missions in Syria since the launch of the air campaign in September 2015, killing more than 3,100 militants, including 26 warlords. He said Russia helped prevent the collapse of the Syrian state.

Shoigu said that nearly 90 percent of all Russian military pilots have gained combat experience in the skies over Syria.

The minister said that the military's special forces also have performed well in the conflict, targeting the militant leaders and helping direct airstrikes.