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US Toops May Fght in Philippines

Some 350 U.S. special operations troops will join with the Philippine military in an open-ended mission to “disrupt and defeat” the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf rebel movement as soon as next month, Pentagon officials told CNN Thursday. It would mark the first time in the war on terror that U.S. forces have assumed an active offensive role in the Philippines. “This will be a no-holds-barred effort,” said one Pentagon official familiar with the planning. “This is not an exercise.” But a spokesman for Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said any such plans have “not been finalized yet.” This official said the government would have to change its constitution, which does not allow U.S. troops to go into combat in the Philippines. The Philippine official did say Reyes is going to the U.S. Pacific Command this weekend for meetings on the possible operation. Pentagon officials said that while the Philippine government has not officially announced the operation, they said their understanding is that it’s a “done deal.” Full Story

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