Islamic State must be defeated in Philippines, says Australian leader

SYDNEY, Frank Walker (dpa)– Islamic State must be defeated in the southern Philippines city of Marawi, otherwise the city could become the group's capital for South-East Asia, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Friday.
Turnbull declined to respond to a new video released by Islamic State that labels Australia a guard dog for the United States in the region, but said it was “vitally important” the group was defeated in the Philippines, as it is drawing in foreign fighters.

“That potentially is a threat to the stability of the region and hence a threat to Australia,” Turnbull said on Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Turnbull said Australia would continue to provide aid to the Philippine government, including two P3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft which are working with the Philippine military.
But, while Australia was supporting the Philippine government in its fight with Islamic State, Turnbull added he “deplored the extrajudicial killings” in the crackdown on drug dealers ordered by the president of the Philippines.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said at the Bali Process meeting of regional leaders in Perth that Australia took the conflict in the southern Philippines “very seriously."
"Some years ago, the leaders of ISIS, declared they wanted to establish a caliphate of headquarters in the southern Philippines,” she said, using a former acronym for Islamic State, broadcaster SBS reported.
“We have been working with the Philippines for some time to prevent such an occurrence.
"As we are more successful in the coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, then we will see foreign terrorist fighters who survived that conflict making their way home," she said.
"In South-East Asia, they'll be coming back to the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia and other places.
"So it’s going to take a very close and deep level of cooperation to continue to support each other in the fight against terrorism."
The Philippines defence force has been fighting Islamic State militants in Marawi since May, and foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria are being drawn to the city. The conflict had displaced an estimated 400,000 people.

Friday, August 25th 2017
Frank Walker

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