Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was in talks with top diplomats from Russia and the United States in Geneva on Friday, in a bid to help bridge their differences over the conflict-torn country.

The U.S. wants Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, while Russia says it is a matter for Syrians to decide.

The meeting between the veteran Algerian diplomat, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and his U.S. counterpart Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is their second since December 9, 2012.

Earlier this week Mr. Brahimi he did not see Mr. Assad as part of the transitional government that was outlined in a plan agreed to by major powers and Arab countries in Geneva last year.

“We are heading to Geneva meeting with Burns and Brahimi to discuss all files, looking forward to a real implementation of the Geneva statement without impinging on the Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity or interfering in its people’s right to choose their leadership,” Mr. Bogdanov told Russia Today TV.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday the aim of the meeting would be how to implement such a transition in concrete terms.

AP reports from Beirut:

Rebels seize key air base: Activists

Meanwhile, Syrian activists claimed that Islamic militants seeking to topple Mr. Assad have taken full control of a strategic northwestern air base in a significant blow to the regime.

The activists said rebels from the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamic groups seized control of buildings, ammunition and military equipment in the sprawling Taftanaz air base in northern Idlib province on Friday.

Taftanaz is the biggest field in the country’s north for helicopters used to bomb rebel-held areas and deliver supplies to government troops.

Idlib-based activist Mohammad Kanaan said the fighters took control on Friday morning after several days of intense fighting.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it is the first major military airport to fall into rebel hands.

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