Washington: The United States said on Wednesday that Russia's air war in Syria had "dangerously exacerbated" the conflict and accused Moscow of seeking to bolster President Bashar al-Assad's regime instead of targeting jihadists.
Washington's latest broadside against Russia's intervention in Syria came as regime troops -- emboldened in recent weeks by Moscow's support -- recaptured a key road into the country's second city Aleppo from the Islamic State group.
Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson said regime offensives backed by Russian air strikes had displaced at least 120,000 people in the war-wracked country.
"Russia's military intervention has dangerously exacerbated an already complex environment," she said.
Patterson said Russian strikes had targeted moderate opponents to Assad, killing civilians in attacks on civil defense crews, hospitals, centers for displaced persons and ambulances.
"So far, then, this has not been a Russian fight against terrorism so much as an effort to preserve the Assad regime," she said.
Regime forces launched major offensives in several parts of Syria after Russia began its intervention on September 30, with more than 1,300 air strikes carried out so far.
On Wednesday, Syria's army recaptured the sole route into the government-held side of Aleppo city from IS fighters, effectively breaking a nearly two-week siege.
The army gained full control of the route from the regime-controlled west of Aleppo to Khanasser, Ithriya and Al-Salmiyeh "after eliminating a number of Daesh (IS) terrorists," state television said.
Advancing IS forces had managed to cut off the route at the end of October.
State TV said the road was now being demined and would be reopened to traffic on Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the frontline with IS fighters had been pushed back about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the route.
Aleppo was once Syria's economic hub, but has been ravaged by years of fierce fighting.
The city has been divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012.