Government forces of the Philippines during their send-off ceremony ending their combat duty against pro-I​S groups in Marawi city, southern Philippines on October 21. (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– Australia on October 24 announced the expansion of its security support to the Philippines, which will involve training in cities, to fight the rise and spread of Islamist militants.

The announcement follows the end of the 154-day battle against IS-backed militants in Marawi city on southern island of Mindanao.

Speaking at a briefing on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus in the Philippines, Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said that all nations must learn from the recent Marawi conflict and the Philippines’ experience.

She said the spread of IS-inspired terrorism is a direct threat to Australia and its interests. Therefore, Australia is committed to working with its partners and allies to ensuring IS cannot establish a geographic foothold in the region.

About 80 soldiers from Australia’s mobile training team will be deployed in local bases in the Philippines to train army and marine units in urban counter-terrorism warfare.

The practical training the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) will provide will ensure the Philippines defense force is better able to counter the brutal tactics being employed by terrorists, said Payne.

Apart from urban warfare training, Australia will also increase the sharing of information and intelligence, and strengthen maritime security engagement and bilateral maritime patrols.

An increasing number of Australian warships are expected to make visits to Manila.

The Philippines and Australia are now reviewing the deployment of surveillance planes, which flew four times a week over Marawi since late June.

Philippines authorities said after the five-month combat, Philippine security forces killed 919 IS militants. Meanwhile, 165 Government troops lost their lives in the conflict, which displaced about 400,000 people.-VNA