Philippine troops here for training in urban war

Two months after the Philippine army declared victory over militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the southern city of Marawi, 40 Philippine soldiers are in Singapore for training to build on their expertise in urban warfare.

SAF soldiers would also benefit from the two-week professional exchange programme between the Philippine army and the Singapore Armed Forces, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

The Philippine troops started training at the Murai Urban Training Facility in Lim Chu Kang yesterday. The training will last till Dec 15.

Emphasising the need for Asean countries to work together to combat regional terrorism, Dr Ng wrote: "If extremists gain a foothold in any country around us, they will launch attacks against all Asean cities - that is the key lesson in dealing with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. These groups can be defeated, but we will be stronger and that much more effective if we do it together."

He added: "The professional exchange is mutually beneficial to SAF soldiers who would also be able to learn from (the Philippine army's) counter-terrorism fight in Marawi."

The previous bilateral exchange between the two armed forces was in 1996.

On Oct 17, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared that Marawi had finally been liberated, after more than four months of intense conflict triggered by an all-out assault by ISIS-affiliated militants on the major city on the island of Mindanao. More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed and more than 400,000 displaced by the fighting.

In August, the SAF delivered humanitarian supplies donated by the SAF and the Singapore Red Cross to those affected by the conflict.

Singapore had also offered drones and its urban warfare training facilities to help the Philippine troops.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline 'Philippine troops here for training in urban war'. Print Edition | Subscribe