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U.S. Denies Russian Claim Not Fighting Islamic State

Smoke rises at the positions of Islamic State militants after an air strike by U.S.-led coalition forces at the front line in Raqqa, Syria, on October 5.

The Pentagon has dismissed as "absolutely false" Kremlin accusations that the United States is "pretending" to fight Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq, in the latest sign of rising tensions between Moscow and Washington.

In a statement on October 10, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the U.S.-led coalition carried out fewer air strikes in Iraq in September when Syrian forces -- backed by Russian air power -- had started to retake Deir al-Zor Province.

"Everyone sees that the U.S.-led coalition is pretending to fight Islamic State, above all in Iraq, but continuing to allegedly fight Islamic State in Syria actively for some reason," said Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia's Defense Ministry.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning described the Russian accusations as "absolutely false."

"We remain committed to killing ISIS and denying them safe havens and the ability to carry out strikes in the region or globally," Manning said, using another acronym for IS.

The Pentagon said that the U.S.-led coalition posted data every day on the number and result of strikes for the public to see.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP