ZAMBOANGA CITY: Singapore has offered to help the Philippines fight the Islamic State-linked Maute Group by providing the Armed Forces of the Philippines surveillance drones and urban warfare training.
Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana briefed him on the situation in Marawi City and told him what the military needs. Ng said Singapore offered to deploy drones and a C-130 cargo plane to deliver supplies for displaced residents of Marawi.
He said Singapore will also train Filipino soldiers in urban warfare.
“Armed Forces of the Philippines soldiers would benefit from training in our urban training villages – much needed for their current operations,” he said.
Ng said many countries in Asia are monitoring the attack in Marawi City.
“Hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced out from their homes by extremists in Marawi. These ISIS-linked networks have openly declared their goal to establish an Islamic Caliphate in ASEAN, as they did in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “Peace-loving countries understand that if we do not combat terrorism together, we will be attacked individually, and our citizens will never be safe at home.”
Ng said leaders of extremist groups want to establish bases in cities like Marawi and from there, launch further attacks against other cities within the Philippines and in Asia. They will then urge their cells to attack targets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
He said Lorenzana thanked him for the assistance.
The United States and Australia also deployed P-3 Orion spy planes in Marawi and are currently helping the military in locating Maute fighters. China also donated guns and ammunition to help troops in Marawi, where government troops continue to battle terrorists.
Ng said Philippine forces were confident of liberating Marawi, but “further concerted efforts are required to ensure that other terrorist cells do not entrench themselves in the southern Philippines as this would cause instability to the rest of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).”
IS could use bases like Marawi to “launch further attacks against other cities within the Philippines and ASEAN, and urge their cells to attack targets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore,” Ng said in a Facebook post.