Philippines: Duterte thankful for US force's assistance in Marawi conflict

According to a US official, US special forces are providing aerial surveillance and electronic eavesdropping and communications assistance.

U.S. joins battle as Philippines takes losses in besieged city
A US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft is seen flying over the town of Marawi city, as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, who has taken over large parts of the city, Philippines June 9, 2017. Reuters

With dozens of journalists enquiring about his comment that US special forces are helping Philippine soldiers in Marawi City, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is thankful that they are already there.

Denying reports that states that he sought help from the US to support Philippine soldiers battle ISIS-inspired militants in the Southern Philippines, Duterte said he never approached any American to help the military. Moreover, the leader is known for his constant criticism about the US government for meddling into the internal affairs of Philippines.

Philippines laws provide that the President of the Republic will serve as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country and as commander-in-chief. Moreover, he designated Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana as the administrator of Martial Law declared on Mindanao.

However, many were still asking if the Philippine military sought the permission of the president to allow the US special forces assistance in the on-going fierce battle in Marawi. The news that US special forces were assisting Philippine soldiers broke out when a US-P3 Orion was hovering the city on Saturday and it caught the attention of many residents.

A US official, who requested anonymity, confirmed to Philippine media that the support they are providing to soldiers to suppress terrorism is in form of aerial surveillance and they are providing electronic eavesdropping and communications assistance.

Though many are suprised that US military is providing assitance to Filipino soldiers despite Duterte's unpleasant remarks about American leaders and international organisations, the leader clarified that he had personal difference with only former US President Barrack Obama and not with the current President Donald Trump.

The Philippines and the US government signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951, where both countries committed to help each other in times of external armed attack. Since 2002, the Philippine military and the US special forces have been holding joint military exercises to exchange military tactics and technical expertise to improve their capabilities.

The ongoing Marawi battle has already killed 138 militants and 58 government security force's personnel. The Philippine military said that it is confiend that the war will end by 12 June, which is the country's Independence day. However, the military continues to battle close to 200 armed terrorists in the Islamic City of Marawi showing signs the battle will not end that soon.