Thai military ready to aid Philippines
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is ready to send troops to the restive city of Marawi to provide humanitarian aid if the Philippines seeks help from Thailand.
Lt Gen Chatchai Patranavik, chief of the RTA's Counter Terrorist Operations Centre, says if requested, Thai troops could be deployed to Marawi to provide humanitarian aid for residents affected by the conflict against local militants claiming links to the Islamic State (IS) group.
The relief would be provided under the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) programme. He stressed they would not engage in any combat.
At present, only military advisers from Australia and the United States are deployed in and around Marawi.
"We [Thailand] would have to position ourselves carefully in this operation. Otherwise, we could invite trouble for ourselves. However, if the Philippines seeks help from us, we have to be ready. It is just preparation," an army source said.
Lt Gen Chatchai was speaking during the 7th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus Experts' Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, held in Bangkok.
The meeting, co-chaired by the Thai and Chinese Defence ministries, aimed to discuss anti-terrorist measures. More than 100 representatives from Asean member countries attended the meeting.
Speaking about the IS issue, Lt Gen Chatchai said there have been no reports of IS activities in the country. He admitted individuals connected to IS had earlier entered the country but have since left.