Australia urged to join regional IS fight as Marawi crisis continues

Smoke rises from houses following airstrikes by Philippine Air Force bombers as government forces battle to retake control of Marawi city Source: AAP

A United States general is urging Australia to join the fight against IS extremists in south-east Asia.

A US commander in charge of more than 80,000 marines in the Pacific is urging Australia to join the fight against Islamic State militants in south-east Asia.

Lieutenant General David Berger, in Australia ahead of the biennial Talisman Sabre military exercises, believes the movement of violent extremists threatens countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

He expects Australian forces could soon join American troops fighting Islamic extremists in the region.

"Both of us have a long history of being an expeditionary force when needed, so we begin from a common point I think and we've operated alongside for 100 years," General Berger told the ABC.

"Regionally where you're looking for stability, where you're looking to reassure other countries that there will be a strong enough force in the region to deter bad behaviour, I think absolutely, yes, we would go where asked."

The visiting Hawaii-based general warned Australia's neighbours will need help to stop IS-inspired militants.

"I think the potential for it to spread is there, we should not underestimate it," he said.

"Absolutely it should be of very much concern to countries in the region -- including Australia and the US."

Last week, Australia confirmed it was sending intelligence-gathering aircraft to the Philippines to help in the fight against Islamic State-affiliated terrorist groups.

Marawi city
A man looks at a burning structure during early morning airstrikes by government forces in the continuing fight for Marawi city by Muslim militants. (AAP)

The two RAAF P-3 Orion planes will provide surveillance support to local forces in the Mindanao region where four Islamist groups, including Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, are fighting.

The biennial Talisman Sabre training exercises kick off on Thursday, mostly at Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton.

The exercises involve more than 30,000 Australian defence force and US Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force personnel, while more than 700 New Zealand troops will also take part.

Training routines will include Special Forces activities, amphibious landings, parachuting, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and the firing of live ammunition and explosive ordnance from small arms.

There will be 21 ships involved, including the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, as well as 200 aircraft.

Marawi civilians rescued during ceasefire
Marawi civilians rescued during ceasefire

Source AAP

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