The Pentagon is considering a plan that allows the U.S. military to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in the Philippines, two defense officials told NBC News.
The authority to strike ISIS targets as part of collective self-defense could be granted as part of an official military operation that may be named as early as Tuesday, said the officials. The strikes would likely be conducted by armed drones.
If approved, the U.S. military would be able to conduct strikes against ISIS targets in the Philippines that could be a threat to allies in the region, which would include the Philippine forces battling ISIS on the ground in the country’s southern islands.
The U.S. military has been sharing intelligence with the Philippines for years, according to Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis, who called it a “steady state.”
“We have had a consistent CT [counterterror] presence in the Philippines for fifteen years now,” he said.
There is a small U.S. military presence on the ground supporting the counter-ISIS fight, called Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident.
In Manila on Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was providing the Philippines government with “intelligence capabilities” in the fight against ISIS, including “some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and a couple of UAVs (drones) to allow to them to have better information with which to conduct the fight down there.”
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SOURCE: NBC News, Courtney Kube