Singapore has offered drones and its urban warfare training facilities to help Philippine troops dislodge Muslim militants still holding up in the southern city of Marawi after nearly three months of fighting.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a news briefing to Singapore media here on Wednesday (July 19) that he offered to his Philippine counterpart Delfin Lorenzana help “to enhance the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities” of the Philippine military.
“We recognised that the area in Marawi and surrounding areas is very large. There are many islands. Surveillance is an issue,” Dr Ng told Singapore media.
Singapore has two types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): the Heron 1, which has a range of 200km and can stay in the air for 24 hours; and the Hermes 450, which has half the range and a shorter flying time of 14 hours.
Dr Ng said Singapore was also willing to help train Philippine security forces in urban warfare and fighting in “built-up areas”.
He said he suggested to Mr Lorenzana the use of “urban training villages” that the Singapore Armed Forces use to train soldiers being sent to conflict areas in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Singapore is also offering to send a C-130 aircraft to help transport humanitarian aid and supplies to evacuees from Marawi.
The Philippines estimates that the fighting in the city has displaced over 400,000 residents. Most have moved in with their kin or close friends, but at least 20,000 are staying in evacuation centres.
Health officials said 40 evacuees have already died from diseases.
Mr Ng said Singapore and many other countries are closely following the situation in Marawi “because all of us know that if the situation is not contained, or if terrorist cells or terrorist elements entrench themselves in any part of Asean, they will launch attacks in other cities”. (StraitsTimes)