The Pentagon is considering a plan that allows the U.S. military to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in the Philippines, two defense officials told NBC News.
The authority to strike ISIS targets as part of collective self-defense could be granted as part of an official military operation that may be named as early as Tuesday, said the officials. The strikes would likely be conducted by armed drones.
If approved, the U.S. military would be able to conduct strikes against ISIS targets in the Philippines that could be a threat to allies in the region, which would include the Philippine forces battling ISIS on the ground in the country’s southern islands.
But Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Christopher B Logan told on Tuesday said that “The Philippines have not requested nor is the U.S. planning drone strikes in the Philippines.”
Another U.S. official said that the authorization for collective self-defense was more about intelligence sharing than offensive U.S. strikes.
“Collective self-defense doesn’t necessarily mean airstrikes,” the official said.
For example, if the U.S. sees a threat to the Philippine military, it could provide that intelligence to them to protect themselves.
The official would not rule out that the U.S. would be able to launch the strike themselves. The official also would not say whether the additional drones the U.S. is considering sending would be armed or not.