BEIRUT - At least 16 more people have died of starvation in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya since an aid convoy entered earlier this month, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Several dozen more residents of the town are in "danger of death" because of severe malnutrition, the humanitarian group warned. The latest deaths bring the number of people reported to have died of starvation in Madaya to 46 since December, according to MSF. But the medical charity said the real toll could be even higher. "MSF has clear medical reporting for 46 starvation deaths since December 1," the group said in a statement to AFP. "The real number is almost certainly higher, as MSF is aware of reports of people dying of starvation in their homes."

Located in Damascus province, Madaya is under government siege, and its fate has been one of the sticking points for fresh peace talks on the Syrian conflict that opened on Friday after delays.

Syria's opposition wants to see the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to sieges in the country before committing to new negotiations.The main Syrian opposition group heading to Geneva peace talks on Saturday has demanded a halt to a joint Russian and Syrian bombing campaign they say targets mostly civilians in rebel held areas as a pre-condition for engaging in talks with the Syrian government

Russian air strikes on Syria have killed nearly 1,400 civilians since Moscow started its aerial campaign nearly four months ago, a group monitoring the war said on Saturday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information from a network of sources on the ground, said the Russian strikes had also killed 965 IS fighters.

Russia began a major aerial campaign on Sept. 30 to help its ally Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The air strikes tilted the war in Assad's way after major setbacks earlier in 2015 brought rebel groups close to the coastal heartland of his Alawite sect.

Moscow says it is targeting Islamic State militants but rebels and residents say the Russian air strikes are causing hundreds of civilian casualties in indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas away from the frontline.