The United States and Philippine forces have begun their largest annual military exercises under President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Balikatan exercises opened on Monday 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 in 2017, according to AP report.
Duterte, after gaining power in 2016, vowed to reduce US military presence and involvement in combat drills in the country's south as he sought closer ties with China and Russia. He once threatened to end the annual counter-terrorism 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, reports AP.