Published: Wed, August 09, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

USA eyes airstrikes vs militants in Marawi

USA eyes airstrikes vs militants in Marawi

The Pentagon is mulling USA air strikes against ISIS militants in the Philippines, and could announce an official military operation including such strikes as early as Tuesday, NBC News reports.

But he did say the US has been providing "some training and some guidance" to the Philippines in its fight against ISIS.

In Manila, on the sidelines of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Tillerson met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took a markedly more positive tone with Tillerson than he had with officials from the previous US administration.

Last month, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff brought up the possibility of an operation assisting the Philippines in its fight against the ISIS affiliate, leading to speculation that the USA could be expanding its involvement with Duterte's government.

"We're providing them some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that are not like most people have ever had to deal with", he added.

This was the assurance made by Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono during his meeting with President Duterte at the sidelines of a regional ministerial summit, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

USA military might be allowed to perform strikes against radical Islamist groups in the Philippines affiliated with ISIS. "The AFP also states that no such discussions have occurred at their level", he said.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said such proposed USA airstrike may also lead to America's permanent military presence in the country.

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The maverick leader makes no attempt to hide his grudge against the USA, which he has repeatedly chided for what he says is a history of hypocritical foreign policy, and for treating the Philippines like a dog.

"This (US' planned airstrike in Marawi City) was not taken up during the meeting between President Duterte and Secretary Tillerson", Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

"The Australian government continues to work with the Philippine government to combat terrorism in the region", she said.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the military has "yet to receive any formal notice or offer for such air capability deployment".

Under the agreement, the military admitted it allowed the U.S. to provide technical assistance to the Filipino soldiers as well as armaments in the Marawi crisis.

Instead, it could see the United States drawn into what could be just the start of a longer military quagmire in Southeast Asia.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the matter had not been discussed by both countries.

The military on Tuesday welcomed a reported plan by the U.S. to be directly involved in ongoing operations against terrorists in Marawi City, but cautioned the Pentagon such a degree of involvement should first go through a process.

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