Australia considers defeating terrorists in the Philippines vital
(FILE) Filipino government troops conduct house to house searches as fighting between Islamist militants and government forces continues in Marawi City, Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, 07 June 2017. EPA/MERLYN MANOS
(FILE) Filipino staff of a public cemetery carry a casket during a mass burial of victims of fighting between Islamist militants and government forces in Marawi City, Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, 15 June 2017. EPA/MERLYN MANOS
(FILE) Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gestures as he speaks at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 18 August 2017. EPA/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Sydney, Australia, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Friday it is vital to defeat the Islamic State terror organization in Marawi in the southern Philippines, to prevent the group from spreading across Southeast Asia.
Australia has sent two P-3 Orion reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft to help the Philippines, which has been battling IS rebels since May in Marawi, where combatants from Syria and Iraq have also been fighting.
"Marawi - the city where this insurrection is going on - is drawing in foreign fighters from outside of the Philippines," Turnbull told 3AW Radio.
"It is a threat to the stability of the region and hence a threat to Australia. So that's why we're providing support, surveillance support through the P3s to the Philippines government," Turnbull said.
Australia does not want Marawi to become the Raqqa of Southeast Asia, Turnbull added, referring to the stronghold of the IS in Syria, a city that a United States-led coalition has been trying to take since June.
Rebels belonging to Maute, a Philippine radical Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to the IS, entered Marawi on May 23 and still occupy some neighborhoods, in a conflict that has led to 735 deaths and 467,377 displaced.