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Australia sends spy planes to Marawi

Two AP-3C Orion aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force will provide surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its operation against ISIS-inspired groups. BY/Jason Baker

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:58 p.m.) — The Australian government has offered to send two surveillance aircraft to assist the Philippines in its fight against ISIS-inspired militants in Marawi City.

Two AP-3C Orion aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force will provide surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the government gladly welcomes any form of foreign assistance to help suppress the rebellion in Marawi.

What can an Australian spy plane do? Graphic by Yas Salanga and Jonathan Asuncion

"Our Defense officials are in close coordination with their Australian counterparts in the latter’s offer of providing surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Abella said in a televised press briefing.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne earlier said that the regional threat of terrorism, particularly from ISIS, is a direct threat to Australia and their interests.

"Australia will continue to work with our partners in Southeast Asia to counter it," Payne said.

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The United States had also offered its help in the government forces' operations against local terror groups in the region.

The military earlier confirmed the presence of American troops in Marawi but clarified their participation was limited to intelligence sharing.

On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao following a clash between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi.

Almost the entire population of Marawi of about 246,000 have been displaced since the seizure of the city by fighters allied to ISIS.

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