Aussie spy planes to join fight vs IS-linked groups in Mindanao

Australia's advanced intelligence-gathering P-3 Orion aircraft will be flown over Mindanao to help Filipino troops fight terrorism in the region, an official said Friday.

Australian defence minister Marise Payne in a statement said the Philippines has accepted the offer of two Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft to operate in Mindanao.

Payne did not give exact details where the spy planes will fly.

"The regional threat from terrorism, in particular from Daesh and foreign fighters, is a direct threat to Australia and our interests. Australia will continue to work with our partners in South East Asia to counter it," Payne said.

"I recently spoke with my counterpart Secretary of Defence Delfin Lorenzana about how Australia can assist the Philippines in its fight against extremists. We agreed the best way to defeat terrorism in our region is for us to work together," she added.

Filipino troops are battling Islamic State (IS)-linked terrorists in Marawi City for a month now.

The conflict has killed over 200 militants, 67 government troops, and 26 civilians.

The Australian government also earlier donated $920,000 (S$1.28 million)) worth of food and other supplies to thousands of residents who were displaced by the fighting in Marawi City.

The United States is also providing support to Filipino troops in Marawi City in the form of technical assistance, but not in combat operations.