GENEVA – The latest on U.N hosted peace negotiations in Geneva aimed at ending Syria's devastating five-year conflict (all times local):
Russia's Foreign Minister says Moscow supports having all parties to Syria's conflict represented at negotiations in Geneva, even if that includes individuals from hard-line Sunni armed groups.
Sergey Lavrov says the inclusion of individuals from Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, whose founders are linked to al-Qaida, is "realistic" given the situation on the ground in Syria, but added that their participation at the peace talks does not mean "recognition of them as legitimate partners" for peace.
Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and began an air campaign in Syria four months ago backing his troops. Moscow and Washington are also lead members of the International Syrian Support Group, which helped pave the way for the Geneva talks.
Lavrov spoke during a visit to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Syria's official news agency SANA says forces loyal to the government have retaken a village north of Aleppo, opening the way to further advances around Syria's largest city.
The capture of Hardatneen early Tuesday came a day after U.N.-led Syria peace talks got off to a wobbly start in Geneva.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group that monitors the conflict, says pro-government troops have captured three villages near Aleppo since Monday, opening access to an important supply route to the city.
The Observatory says heavy aerial bombardment, presumed to be from the Russian Air Force, supported the ground troops.
In Geneva, both sides have accused each other of bad faith. The opposition has said government airstrikes and sieges of rebel-held areas must stop ahead of talks.