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US weighing more support to PH vs militants


WASHINGTON, United States – The United States is weighing additional support to the Philippine military as it fights an Islamist insurgency in the South, a US defense official said Tuesday.

Discussions are “pretty advanced” and would see the US provide increased surveillance drone capabilities and training for local forces, the official told AFP on condition on anonymity.

The drones could hypothetically be used to conduct strikes, the official added, although that would only be for self-defense reasons to protect US or partner forces, and would not signal another front in America’s drone wars.

“It’s not necessarily what those (drones) are there for. Those are there for ISR and support,” the official said, using an abbreviation for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The Department of National Defense said there had been no discussions regarding the use of US drones to strike IS-inspired “terrorist groups.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Logan said all military assistance in the Philippines is conducted at the request of the government. “We respect the sovereignty of the Philippines, and we are not pursuing unilateral action in the Philippines,” he said.