US may begin airstrikes against ISIS in Philippines

The top U.S. diplomat met with Duterte on Monday, where the firebrand Philippine president took a U-turn from his previous anti-Washington stances and called himself a "humble friend" of the Trump White House. The two met during Tillerson's trip to Asia for a series of meetings with regional officials. "Human rights - you go there and you might have a bomb dropped on your head".

The Pentagon is considering a plan that allows the USA military to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in the Philippines, two defense officials told NBC News.

The state secretary said there was "no conflict" between helping Manila with the fight and the "human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter-narcotics activities".

In Manila on Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the USA was providing the Philippines government with "intelligence capabilities" in the fight against ISIS, including "some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and a couple of UAVs (drones) to allow to them to have better information with which to conduct the fight down there".

The equipment is part of the more than $300 million in military aid granted to the Philippines over the last five years, according to NBC.

"We are providing some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that is not like most people have ever had to deal with, so it's a tragic situation down there", Tillerson explained at a regional security forum Monday.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met Monday with America's top diplomat, where he voiced solidarity with the USA amid global concerns over North Korea's nuclear program and angrily dismissed media questions about human rights abuses by his government.

In a separate statement released Tuesday, Abella said Tillerson reaffirmed the US' commitment to providing assistance to the Philippine government to end the hostilities of the terrorists in the south.

"Obviously, the United States would want to turn the Philippines into another Yemen, or worse, Iraq or Syria, to justify outright stationing of bases and troops in its war posturing against China", Agcaoili said as he accused the Philippine military of being "so pro-American that they would not mind turning the country into a battlefield to defend and promote USA interests". Duterte had called Obama a "son of a bitch"-a comment he later retracted-and warned him not to interfere in Philippines' internal affairs, the UK Independent reported".

Asked directly if the topic came up, Duterte cursed at a reporter who asked about reported abuses and said not to 'go there'.

Bishop made this announcement on the sidelines of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings hosted by the Philippines. Human rights advocates in countries such as the U.S., Australia, and members of the European Union have called on their governments to shun Duterte and protest the country's drug war, now on its second year.

He added that it appeared the Philippines was "beginning to get that situation under control".

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