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U.S., Filipino Troops Open Anti-Terror Exercises

U.S. and Filipino troops formally launched new anti-terrorism exercises Sunday as the Philippines flatly rejected any combat role for the Americans in fighting local Muslim militants linked to al Qaeda.

Soldiers armed with assault rifles and army snipers atop a three-story house guarded a military camp in Zamboanga, where the two militaries vowed to crush the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas. “This is part of the $25 million (U.S.) security assistance but it’s a small cost to pay to combat terrorism,” U.S. Air Force special forces Colonel Douglas Lengendfelder told 100 Filipino and a dozen U.S. soldiers at the opening ceremony. Philippine southern military commander Lieutenant-General Narciso Abaya said the training — involving close-quarter combat, demolition and survival techniques — symbolized the two countries’ determination to defeat terror. “The terrorists are still on the loose…We have to put an end to this menace with finality,” Abaya said. About 300 U.S. soldiers, including 70 special forces trainers, will take part in the exercises to be held in the largely in the largely Christian city of Zamboanga. Actual training will start Monday. Full Story

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