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Australia sends spy planes to PH

CANBERRA (Xinhua) — Australia’s Defense Minister on Friday confirmed that state-of-the-art Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) spy planes will fly intelligence missions over the southern parts of the Philippines to assist local forces in the fight against Islamic State in the region.

In a statement on Friday, Defense Minister Marise Payne said that two of the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion aircraft would provide aerial intelligence support to the local armed forces, as they continue to try and drive IS from Marawi City, which is located inland in the north-west part of Mindanao Island.

“The regional threat from terrorism, in particular from (Islamic State) and foreign fighters, is a direct threat to Australia and our interests. Australia will continue to work with our partners in South East Asia to counter it,” Payne said in an official statement.

“I recently spoke with my counterpart Secretary of Defense, Delfin Lorenzana, about how Australia can assist the Philippines in its fight against extremists. We agreed the best way to defeat terrorism in our region is for us to work together.”

In the statement, the minister also condemned the recent attacks undertaken by the IS militants in the region, but did not shed light on where the AP-3C Orion jets would be based, though it’s expected that they will fly from the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s Butterworth base in northern Malaysia.