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The Philippine government expressed gratitude to Australia for its support to the ongoing efforts to contain Maute terrorists in Marawi City.

“We are happy with the assistance that we are getting from Australia, the P-3s (AP-3Cs providing intelligence, surveillance and recon support to Filipino soldiers in Marawi City and if they can send a small detachment of Australian troops to stay (in) to train our people maybe information gathering and analysis, then we would be very grateful,” Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said following a meeting with Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne last week.

Australian intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance (ISR) assistance to the Philippines started last June 30, with two AP-3Cs providing the support to Filipino troops engaged in clearing out the remaining Maute Group members in Marawi City.

Payne said the Australian government is committed in helping the Philippines defend itself against terrorism.

“We are very committed to supporting (Philippines) in its efforts to defend itself against terrorist threats not only because we support our friends but because it is important for Australia as well, this is a threat to the region that we all need to work together to defeat,” she said.

Fighting in Marawi City started after government forces tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts last May 23.

Maute Group terrorists killed in the ongoing operations are placed at 655 along with 145 government troops. The number of Marawi City residents killed has reached 45 while rescued civilians are at 1,728. Seized weapons from the Maute Group totaled to 680. (PNA)

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