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US may start air operation against IS militants in Philippines

Washington may launch a military operation that would allow the US military to conduct airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS, banned in Russia) positions in the Philippines, media reported, citing two defense officials.

According to the NBC broadcaster’s Monday report, the plan to start the operation, which is currently being considered by the US Department of Defense, may be announced later in the day.

The broadcaster also noted that the airstrikes are likely to be carried out by drones.

In the event the plan is approved, US servicemen will be authorized to attack militants who threaten US allies in the region, which include the Philippine Armed Forces that fight the IS threat on the ground.

The broadcaster cited Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis as saying that Washington and Manila has been sharing intelligence for quite some time, and that the Philippines has for 15 years been hosting US servicemen who support the state in its counterterrorism efforts.

In late July, the United States supplied the Philippines with two new Cessna 208B Grand Caravan intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, 1,040 rocket motors and 992 rockets to fight against terror. In addition, Manila is expected to receive 250 rocket-propelled grenade launchers from Washington.

On May 25, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao, which is often subjected to attacks by IS-linked terror groups. Marawi has remained the primary hotspot ever since the Maute group attempted to storm the city.

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