US gives Philippines hundreds of anti-terror weapons

Jun 6, 2017 14:33 IST

The United States on 5 June 2017 gave Philippines hundreds of anti-terror weapons including machine guns, pistols and grenade launchers.

The weapons were handed over during a ceremony held in Manila that highlighted a decade-old American counter- terrorism assistance programme to the Philippines worth about 150 million.

The US embassy rolled out a statement on the development, which read that this equipment will enhance the Philippine Marines' counter-terrorism capabilities and help protect troops that are actively engaged in counter-terrorism operations in the country’s southern part.

 Counter- Terrorism Assistance Programme

The Philippine Marines Chief, Major General Emmanuel Salamat stated during the ceremony that the troops would use the weapons in the ongoing battle against Islamist militants in the country’s southern city of Marawi.

Background

• Marawi was invaded by militants flying black Islamic State (IS) group flags nearly two weeks ago, triggering clashes with troops and police that have left at least 178 people dead.

• Responding to the rioting violence, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern region of Mindanao to quell the fast-growing threat from IS in the region.

• The Philippines and the United States have been close allies for decades. They are bound by a 1951 mutual defence treaty in which they agreed to protect each other in the wake of an attack.

• The United States is Philippines' biggest supplier of military hardware and arms.

Duterte, who took office last year, has, however, sought to forge closer relations with China and Russia and loosen ties with the United States. He has even called for the withdrawal of American troops from the Philippines while scaling down joint military exercises in response to US criticism of his deadly war on drugs.

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Duterte also accused America of giving them low quality ‘second hand’ military hardware and is looking to China and Russia for new sources of weapons.

According to US officers, the equipment handed over recently was all new. It included four M134D Gatling-style machine guns, 300 M4 assault rifles and 100 grenade launchers.

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