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U.S. FOCUS MAY AID SYRIA

BEIRUT, Lebanon - As U.S. warplanes cross the Syrian skies dropping bombs on Islamic State militants, another set of air raids has sown destruction across the country as the Syrian government returns with new intensity to its longstanding and systematic attacks on rebellious towns and neighborhoods.

On Saturday, a mushroom cloud towered over the town of Saraqeb in the northern province of Idlib, after a ground-shaking government bombing that residents said killed two civilians and wounded six. Dozens have died in such bombings since the U.S.-led air campaign began.

Such attacks, from airspace that U.S. warplanes now enter at will, have fueled anger at the United States among opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad who wonder why the Americans are leading the fight against the Islamic State but give free hand to a dictator whose fight to stay in power has left as many as 200,000 of his own people dead.

The U.S. focus on the Islamic State has given cover to Syrian forces, they say. That has freed Assad's military from worrying about checking the militant group's advances and allowed them to continue to focus attacks on the greater political threat - less extreme insurgent groups bent on ousting Assad and the areas where they hold sway.

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