US says aircraft to help Philippines fight pro-IS militants

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson (centre) links arms with Asean foreign ministers as they take part in the Asean-US Ministerial meeting in the 50th Association of Southeast Asia Nations Regional Forum in suburban Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines on Sunday. (AP photo)

MANILA -- The top US diplomat says the United States has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight a months-long siege of a southern city by pro-Islamic State group militants.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Manila for a regional gathering. He says the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones. He says they'll help the Philippines battle “an enemy that fights in a way that most people have never had to deal with”.

But Mr Tillerson says there's no contradiction between US assistance and concerns about human rights. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been roundly criticised for a bloody way on illegal drugs that has killed thousands of suspects.

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