Australia Expands Security Assistance to Philippines to Combat Islamic Terrorists

By Reuters
October 24, 2017World News
Australia Expands Security Assistance to Philippines to Combat Islamic Terrorists
Philippines Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana (L) and Australia's Defence Minister and Senator Marise Ann Payne (R) issue a statement during the Philippine-Australia Defence Ministers' joint press conference on Oct. 24, 2017. (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Philippines–Australia on Tuesday announced the expansion of its security support to the Philippines, which will involve training in urban counter-terrorism, to fight the rise and spread of Islamic terrorism in the region.

The announcement follows the end of the 154-day battle for Marawi city which stunned the Philippine’s military inexperienced in urban combat, and fueled concerns ISIS loyalists wanted to use the southern island of Mindanao as a base for Southeast Asia ISIS activity.

The battle for Marawi ended on Monday, Oct. 23. Philippines authorities said 920 militants, 165 troops and police and at least 45 civilians were killed in the conflict, which displaced more than 300,000 people.

Philippine soldiers from Marawi are welcomed home by their relatives at Villamor Airbase in Manila on Oct. 20, 2017. (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A military vehicle drives past destroyed buildings in what was the main combat area of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on Oct. 23, 2017. A five-month battle against ISIS group supporters in the southern Philippines that claimed more than 1,000 lives has ended following a final battle inside a mosque, defence chiefs said on Oct. 23. (MERLYN MANOS/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia, along with the United States, Singapore and China, provided weaponry and technical support, including surveillance aircraft.

“All nations must learn from the recent Marawi conflict and the Philippines’ experience,” said Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne, adding Canberra and Manila will host a post-conflict seminar to learn from the five-month Marawi conflict.

About 80 soldiers from Australia’s mobile training team will be deployed in local bases in the Philippines to train army and marine units in urban counter-terrorism warfare, said Payne on the sidelines of an ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting in Clark, a former U.S. air force base.

“The practical training the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) will provide will ensure the Philippines defense force is better able to counter the brutal tactics being employed by terrorists,” Payne told a news conference.

“The spread of Daesh-inspired (IISIS) terrorism is a direct threat to Australia and its interests and we are committed to working with our partners and allies to ensuring Daesh cannot establish a geographic foothold in the region.”

Payne said Australia was concerned with ISIS fighters returning from Iraq and Syria to home countries in Southeast Asia and was working closely with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore to monitor terrorist movements.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in the same briefing the government had been provided by Kurdish intelligence, through Manila’s embassy in Baghdad, with a list of Indonesians, Malaysians and a few Filipinos who might return home.

Lorenzana said the Philippines and Australia are now reviewing the deployment of surveillance planes, which flew four times a week over Marawi since late June.

Apart from urban warfare training, Australia will also enhance provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability, share information and intelligence and strengthen maritime security engagement and bilateral maritime patrols.

An increasing number of Australian warships are expected to make visits to Manila. Canberra is also emerging to be the top source of education and training for local troops.


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