BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria and the provisional cease-fire proposed by the U.S. and Russia (all times local):
The United Nations says nearly half the food pallets that were airdropped over the besieged parts of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour have drifted away.
Thursday's announcement by the World Food Program came a day after the United Nations announced the first high-altitude airdrop of 21 metric tons of aid over Deir el-Zour, which is under siege from Islamic State extremists.
WFP said later Wednesday it faced "technical difficulties" and indicated the drop may have been off target.
WFP said the debriefing with the crew and partners on the ground in Deir el-Zour has revealed that due to changing weather conditions and unexpected high winds over the area, 10 of the 21 food pallets that were airdropped drifted away and are currently unaccounted for.
It said the food airdropped was enough to feed 2,500 people for one month.
Russia's foreign minister says he hopes Washington will keep its obligations under a Syria truce deal negotiated by Russia and the U.S.
Sergey Lavrov voiced hope Thursday that the White House will respect the deal envisaging the cease-fire to take effect at midnight Friday local time.
Lavrov was asked to comment on a Wall Street Journal report alleging that some administration officials were pushing for ways to increase pressure on Moscow. Lavrov said in comments carried by Russian news agencies that there is no alternative to the cease-fire deal.
The agreement was announced Monday after President Barack Obama spoke with Russia's President Vladimir Putin by telephone, capping weeks of intense diplomacy to stem the violence. The truce will not cover the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
3:10 p.m. The U.N. special envoy for Syria says he will convene the first meeting of a task force meant to monitor the cease-fire in Syria that will go into effect at midnight Friday. Staffan de Mistura predicted a "crucial" day ahead of the start of the truce brokered by the United States and Russia.
Various sides in Syria's civil war have a noon Friday deadline to say whether they will abide by the deal, which excludes U.N.-designated terrorist groups like the Islamic State organization and al-Qaida's branch known as the Nusra Front.
De Mistura spoke to reporters Thursday in Geneva. Also at the press conference was his top humanitarian adviser, Jan Egeland.
Egeland said convoys have reached 110,000 people over the last two weeks, including the hard-hit eastern Ghouta region in the last three days.
A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry says Russia is seeing progress ahead of the start of a truce in Syria.
Maria Zakharova is also lauding efforts by Russia and the United States — the two countries that engineered the truce — to makes sure the cease-fire holds.
The cease-fire is to go into effect on midnight Friday. The Syrian opposition has agreed to abide by the truce but expressed major concerns about what it said were ambiguities and the lack of clear mechanism to implement the agreement.
Zakharova also told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. and Russian militaries have begun exchanging intelligence on terrorist groups in Syria.
Turkey's prime minister says he is concerned that Russia will continue to hit Syrian civilians or the moderate opposition during the upcoming truce agreed on in Syria.
Ahmet Davutoglu has accused Russia of striking the moderate opposition in Syria in the past five months under the guise of hitting Syria's al-Qaida branch, known as the Nusra Front.
He says the cease-fire would have "no meaning if Russia continues with its irresponsible bombings."
Meanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday told state-run Anadolu Agency that Saudi aircraft will arrive "today or tomorrow" at the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey to join the fight against Islamic State in Syria.
Cavusoglu did not say how many planes Saudi Arabia would be sending to the base.
Turkey's prime minister has warned a Syrian Kurdish militia against taking advantage of an upcoming truce in Syria for actions that threaten Turkey's security.
Ahmet Davutoglu says his country will respond to such actions and that Turkey will not be bound by the cease-fire agreement due to be implemented this this week if the Kurdish militia poses any threat.
Davutoglu spoke on Turkish TV on Thursday.
Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish group a terror organization because of its links to Turkey's own Kurdish rebels and has been shelling the militia's positions inside Syria along the border with Turkey.
Davutoglu says that "where Turkey's security is concerned, we would not seek anyone's permission, we would do whatever is necessary" to defend the country.
Syria's state-run news agency and an opposition monitoring group say government troops have recaptured a town in Aleppo province from Islamic State militants.
The victory is key for Syria's military access to the provincial capital, Aleppo city.
SANA says the army took the town of Khanaser on Thursday, after three days of heavy battles with the extremist group.
The report says heavy fighting was ongoing to reopen the road to Aleppo city. IS seized Khanaser and surrounding hills on Tuesday, cutting the government's main land route to the city.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group, says the army and pro-government Shiite militias were backed by Russian airstrikes in the push on Khanaser.
The advance comes ahead of a cease-fire meant to start on midnight Friday.