USA eyes airstrikes vs militants in Marawi

Duterte had been courting ties with Russian Federation and China, but now seems to be committed to the US, greeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by declaring himself to be America's "humble friend in Southeast Asia".

The supplies will be given to "the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been forced out of their homes by ISIS-affiliated groups in Marawi, now still in temporary evacuation centres in nearby areas", he added, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group. "And a covenant must be had between the Commanders-in-Chief of both nations before that option may be adopted", Año added.

But officials in the Philippines denied the report, saying such airstrikes would violate the Mutual Defense Treaty their country has with the U.S.

He says the USA military has provided aircraft, drones, and surveillance capabilities.

The U.S. has a limited contingency force - Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident - in country to provide non-combat support for domestic counterterrorism operations, and the U.S. has maintained its consistent counterterrorism presence in the Philippines for over a decade.

The Department of National Defense said there were no discussions between them and the U.S. regarding the use of drones against militants in the Philippines.

"Direct military actions may only be allowed during actual invasion of the Philippines by another state actor", Año said in a statement.

This comes after Singapore offered humanitarian assistance to the Philippines last month, which was accepted "in principle".

Earlier, the Singaporean government pledged to support intelligence, surveillance and recon support to the Philippines in its ongoing fight against terrorism in Marawi City.

The top military chief reacted on Tuesday over reports by the United States media that the Pentagon is considering conducting drone air strikes against members of the Maute-IS group still holed out in four barangays in Marawi.

The militants, waving the black IS flag, have occupied parts of Marawi since May 23, prompting Duterte to declare martial law in the entire southern region of Mindanao.

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