US Special Forces Helping Philippines Fight Militants in Marawi

The Philippine government received offer of help from the United States for the Marawi City's rehabilitation.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with US Ambassador for the Philippines, Sung Kim's envoy last week.

"I met with Ambassador Kim last week, and they said: ‘If you need some help, let us discuss…’ So, we’ll still talk about what kind of aid we’ll get," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana is that appointed head of inter-agency task force which is dubbed as 'Task Force Bangon Marawi'. The job is to rehabilitate Marawi City and neighboring areas.

"So, we are now preparing the rehabilitation plan and we are now preparing the mechanism to go into the rehabilitation and recovery, as soon as the fighting stops in Marawi," he said, adding that he will seek help from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council for the implementation of the rehabilitation.

Ambassador Sung Kim was scheduled to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday afternoon, and Kim was expected to raid the discussion. Lorenzana said they'll also be continuing to discuss further support from the US, specifically for "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance" support.

Lorenzana clarified that the American littoral combat ship USS Coronado and the Philippine Navy's joint patrol in Sulu Sea was just a part of the Maritime Training Activity Sama-Sama in Cebu.

"It was just a continuation of Sama-Sama and as it was (going back to its home port), it passed through Sulu for some patrols,” Lorenzana said. “It was on its way out when they decided to conduct joint patrols (in the Sulu Sea). It was also a good deterrent against piracy," he said.

A U.S. embassy spokesperson told Manila reuters that U.S special ops are helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their fight in Marawi City.

"At the request of the government of the Philippines, U.S. special operations forces are assisting the AFP with ongoing operations in Marawi that help AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute and ASG militants," he said.

AFP clarified that the help provided by the U.S was only technical support and are not joining Philippines troops on the ground fight.

"They are not fighting. They are just providing technical support," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera told a news conference.

However, the Philippine government haven't confirmed that it sought help from U.S for the Marawi City siege. There were no specific details regarding the provided assistance.

A P3 Orion surveillance plane of the United States was seen flying over the town.

Washington's deployment of special forces soldiers in Mindanao was discontinued in 2015, nevertheless, there's still a presence of logistic and technical aide.

Philippines provided a foothold for the United States while the latter promised a defense against China. This came to end when President Duterte openly announced the separation of the two allied countries, stating that the alliance is a hindrance in building a rapport with China.

Source: INQ