A pilot sits in the cockpit of a Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet at the Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria, in this handout photograph released by Russia's Defense Ministry October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
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Russian warplanes bombed Syrian rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria and government forces pounded a suburb of the capital Thursday, ahead of a planned halt to fighting which rebels predicted Damascus and Moscow would ignore.Opponents of President Bashar Assad say they expect the government to press on with its advance, by branding opposition fighters Al-Qaeda militants unprotected by the truce.Fighting has also escalated in the last two days in the northwestern province of Latakia, where Free Syrian Army groups backed by Assad's foreign enemies operate close to Nusra fighters and other extremists.Assad told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday his government was ready to help implement the halt to fighting. The two leaders nevertheless stressed the importance of an "uncompromising" fight against ISIS, Nusra Front and other extremists not party to the truce. United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said he would announce on Friday a date for a new round of talks between Syria's warring parties. The last talks were called off this month before they got under way, with rebels saying they could not talk while government troops advanced and Russia bombed.
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