RealNews

US Elite Units to Fight Philippine Rebels

About 1,750 American troops including elite units will go to the Philippines for joint ground operations with local forces in a stepped-up bid to destroy Muslim rebels, U.S. defense officials said on Friday. In a major strategic shift from training to fighting, the U.S. officials said some 350 elite Special Operations soldiers well be among the American troops sent to the southern Philippines to help subdue Muslim separatist groups that have been fighting the mainly Roman Catholic nation for three decades. The 350 Special Operations troops would head for troubled Jolo Island in the Sulu archipelago and be supported by another 400 troops stationed at Zamboanga. Meanwhile about 1,000 U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit would remain offshore on ships to provide emergency back-up and air support. The Manila government ardently backs the U.S.-led war on terror. Complaining of “leaks” concerning the shift in U.S. strategy, the Philippines refused comment on Friday on whether the Americans would fight side-by-side with their forces. Officials in Manila said, however, they would not break a constitutional ban on foreigners going into combat. The U.S. military has been giving the Philippine army counter-terrorism training and modern hardware. The United States closed its last military base in the Philippines in 1992. Full Story

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