Australian presence in Marawi limited to technical assistance


Posted at Sep 10 2017 12:53 PM

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne shakes hands with her Filipino counterpart Delfin Lorenzana, before their meeting to discuss military strategy and assistance in the Philippines' fight against Islamist militants in Marawi, at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, Friday. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA - Australian troops in the Philippines are limited to providing surveillance support and will not be involved in combat, Malacanang said Sunday.

An Australian P3 Orion spy plane has been tapped "for some time now" as the military battled the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City, said Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

Training from the visiting forces will be "limited within the confines of our military bases," Abella said.

"These and other joint military exercises with Australia will not involve any boots on the ground in accordance with our law prohibiting the direct participation of foreign troops in combat operations."

"The fight against terrorism – to reiterate -- is not only the concern of the Philippines, but it is a concern of many nations around the world, especially those around the region," Abella said.

Extremists have held parts of the lakeside town for nearly 4 months, leaving some 800 people killed in fighting that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire southern island of Mindanao under martial rule.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the government expected the Marawi conflcit to be over before the end of September. -- With Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News; Reuters