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US Airstrikes to Increase Against IS Militants in Syria, Iraq

FILE - Lieutenant General Charles Brown, commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Southwest Asia.

A top U.S. military official in the Middle East says the pace of U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq is likely to increase in the coming weeks after a lull in September and October.

Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Brown said Saturday the slowdown in coalition bombing raids was due to poor weather and a lack of movement by Islamic State forces on the ground. He said officials are starting to see more ground movement by IS militants.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference, Brown also rejected criticism that the U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out fewer airstrikes because of Russian air raids in Syria.

He said an agreement signed by the U.S. and Russia last month to minimize the risk of a midair accident by their warplanes in Syria is not hindering U.S. forces from carrying out strikes when needed.

"We are going to fly where we need to fly to get the job done," he said.

The United States and its allies began carrying out airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq more than a year ago. The extremist group has captured vast swaths of land in both countries.