Two of Australia’s surveillance planes will be deployed in Marawi City for two weeks, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.
“Australia will be providing technical assistance in the government’s fight against ISIS-linked local terrorist groups in Marawi City, particularly the services of the two Australian Defense Force’s AP-3C Orion surveillance planes for two weeks effective upon a mutually agreed date by military officials of both countries,” he said in a statement.
Lorenzana’s statement comes after Australia’s announcement that the Philippine government has accepted their offer to lend their surveillance planes in Mindanao. It did not specifically mention earlier that it will be flown over Marawi City.
“We welcome any technical assistance that our allies can provide while the Armed Forces of the Philippines is in the process of developing such capabilities,” Lorenzana said.
The gunbattle between the government troops and ISIS-linked terrorists in Marawi City has reached its 30th day, killing over 200 militants, 67 government troops, and 26 civilians.
The defense secretary said that Filipino troops may benefit from “enhanced airborne surveillance of the area any time of the day thereby improving operations on the ground” through Australia’s planes.
The planes will be deployed as soon as the two countries finalize the operational details.
“The operation of these aircraft will not require the embedding of Australia Defense Forces personnel with Filipino troops on the ground,” Lorenzana said.
The Australian government also earlier donated $920,000 (P34.5 million) worth of food and other supplies to thousands of residents who were displaced by the fighting in Marawi City.
The United States is also providing support to Filipino troops in Marawi City in the form of technical assistance, but not in combat operations.
“In the fight against global terror, we need to act as a community of nations. Any help and support we can get from our friends and allies will always be welcome,” Lorenzana said. JPV
Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City
Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City
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