The U.S. says Russia's counterterrorism campaign in Syria is actually helping the Islamic State.

Brett McGurk, the Obama administration's point-man for defeating the group, says a Russian-backed offensive in northern Syria is drawing local fighters away from the battle against the Islamic State, and to the front lines in the war against the Syrian government.

McGurk tells the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "What Russia's doing is directly enabling ISIL."

He says Russia is strengthening Syria's government, worsening a humanitarian crisis and fueling extremism.

McGurk, who will meet Russian and other diplomats at a conference on Syria later this week, called the developments "totally unacceptable."