The Latest: Mediator works to wrap up Syria talks in Geneva

The Latest on Syria (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

A United Nations mediator is trying to wrap up talks with the Syrian government and opposition delegations with a clear agenda to guide future talks over ending the six-year civil war in Syria.

U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura sat down with one of the opposition groups invited to Geneva on Friday and was expected to meet with the government delegation and other opposition representatives later in the day.

Speaking at the end of that meeting, Jihad Makdissi, head of the opposition Cairo platform, said if procedural issues are overcome there may be another round of talks in March.

The idea, he said, is to tackle the three main issues on the agenda -- governance, constitution, elections -- in parallel. The subject of terrorism could also be added to the agenda.


11:30 a.m.

A Syrian security official says Syrian army units are cleaning land mines and explosives in the historic town of Palmyra hat were left behind by Islamic State militants.

The official says he expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the extremist group. He spoke on condition of anonymity Friday in line with regulations.

Syria's military announced the previous night that its forces have fully recaptured Palmyra from the extremist group as the militants' defenses crumbled and IS fighters fled in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.

The development marks the third time the town — famed for its priceless Roman ruins and archaeological treasures IS had sought to destroy — has changed hands in one year.