AP. 2 February 2002. U.S. General: American Troops Will Enter Philippine Combat Zones to Help End Rebel Threat.
ZAMBOANGA -- U.S. special forces on an antiterrorism training mission will enter combat zones but will use their weapons only in self-defense, their commander said Saturday. Brig. Gen. Donald Wurster said: "We want to destroy terrorism and they've asked for certain kinds of help. We're offering that certain kind of help." The U.S. military is providing training and weapons to the poorly equipped Philippine military to help destroy the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group, which is holding Wichita, Kan., missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham and Filipino nurse Deborah Yap on nearby Basilan island. Although most American troops haven't arrived yet, the training exercise started Thursday. Potentially, about 160 U.S. special forces could be among the 660-strong American contingent accompanying Filipino troops to war zones on Basilan, where the rugged jungles in the southern Philippines have seen frequent bloody clashes with the rebels. Left-wing groups and many intellectuals traditionally wary of Washington have opposed the US troops with small, rowdy protests at the U.S. Embassy and the presidential palace in Manila. Late Saturday, about 200 supporters of the leftist New Patriotic Alliance marched with torches to the embassy, chanting, "U.S. imperialist - No. 1 terrorist!" Wurster also acknowledged that "there are many people who would like to hurt us here." On Wednesday, a U.S. Air Force plane sustained light damage when it was hit by gunfire during a training exercise in the northern Philippines. No one was injured and the source of the small arms fire has not been determined, Philippine Air Force officials said. A communist rebel spokesman denied Saturday that guerrillas fired at the plane. The Communist Party of the Philippines opposes the joint maneuvers. Wurster said U.S. planes no longer would fly over that area. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews