November 4, 2015 / 3:42 PM / 4 years ago

85-90 percent of Russian strikes hit moderate Syria rebels: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eighty-five to 90 percent of Russian strikes in Syria have hit the moderate Syrian opposition, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East told a congressional committee on Wednesday.

Anne Patterson also told a House of Representatives hearing that President Barack Obama is considering additional ways to “intensify” the campaign against the Islamic State, which has seized swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

“The president is looking at a number of other efforts to intensify our efforts in this battle,” she said.

The Obama administration last week announced it would send fewer than 50 special operations forces into Syria in an advise and assist capacity, weeks after Russia escalated its involvement in the conflict with its own air strikes.

Russia has said its air strikes would target Islamic State, but Washington has said most of them are targeting other Syrian opposition rebels. Russia is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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