US, Philippines launch largest military drills under President Rodrigo Duterte

These will be the largest joint drills since Duterte took office, though Filipino officials stress they're not aimed at China.

Published: 07th May 2018 02:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th May 2018 02:53 PM   |  A+A-

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (File | AP)

By Associated Press

MANILA: US and Philippine forces have begun their largest annual military exercises under President Rodrigo Duterte, who had wanted to scale down America's military presence and involvement in combat drills as he sought closer ties with China and Russia.

The Balikatan exercises opened today and were to involve combat drills in mock urban settings to train special forces in battling terrorists in cities following the Islamic State group-linked siege on southern Marawi city last year.

After rising to power in 2016, Duterte vowed to scale back the presence of US troops involved in counterterrorism training in the country's south and once threatened to end the annual drills with American forces.

These will be the largest joint drills since Duterte took office, though Filipino officials stress they're not aimed at China.

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