United States weighing plan that would permit strikes on ISIS in Philippines

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Hundreds of ISIS-inspired militants stormed the city of Marawi in May.

The United States is weighing additional support to the Philippine military as it fights an Islamist insurgency in the south, a US defense official said Tuesday.

MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE - 9:27 a.m.) The United States may conduct drone strikes on extremist targets in the Philippines if a Pentagon plan is approved, according to an NBC News report.

Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated that no discussions regarding air strikes from whatever platforms hitting local targets transpired at his level.

"Bringing our knowledge of having dealt with this enemy in other parts of the world is useful to them, and I think that is also in our national security interest as well".

AFP chief-of-staff General Eduardo Ano said that at present such a measure is not within the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The transfers, a statement from the Department of Defense said, were part of $33 million package to "provide equipment and training to improve Philippine counter-terrorism response capability".

A militant group, however, slammed proposals for US-led airstrikes in the country.

The drones could hypothetically be used to conduct strikes, the official added, though that would only be done for self-defense of U.S. or partner forces and does not signal yet another front in America's drone wars.

Once the USA military receives the approval to perform airstrikes against the existing ISIS targets in the Philippines, they will be able to help the Philippine army who are battling the terrorist group on the ground.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the matter had not been discussed by both countries.

Fidel Agcaoili, chairman of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in what he called an initial reaction, said: "We condemn any such agreement to allow USA to intervene militarily with air strikes and the use of drones".

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