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    Australian, US, Filipino Forces Practice Retaking an Island in a Drill Along the South China Sea

    Australian, US, Filipino Forces Practice Retaking an Island in a Drill Along the South China Sea

    MANILA, — Australian and Filipino forces, backed by U.S. Marines, practiced retaking an island seized by hostile forces in a large military drill Friday on the northwestern Philippine coast facing the disputed South China Sea.

    President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and visiting Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles watched the mock beach landings, assaults and helicopter insertion of forces on a Philippine navy base with 1,200 Australians, 560 Filipinos and 120 U.S. Marines participating.

    On Monday, Australian, Filipino and American forces conducted assault maneuvers in Rizal town in western Palawan province, which also faces the South China Sea.

    The three countries are among the most vocal critics of China's increasingly aggressive and confrontational actions in the disputed waters, but the Philippine military said was not the envisioned target of the combat drills, the largest so far between and the Philippines.

    “It's an important aspect of how we prepare for any eventuality and considering that there have been so many events that attest to the volatility of the region,” Marcos said in a news conference after the drills.

    Marles said in a separate news conference with his Philippine counterpart, Gilberto Teodoro Jr., that the drills were aimed at promoting the rule of law and peace in the region.

    “The message that we want to convey to the region and to the world from an exercise of…

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