PH military: No U.S. troops fighting alongside PH troops

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Filipino and American soldiers in a joint military training activity.

Marawi City (CNN Philippines, June 10) —  The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied on Saturday the presence of American troops fighting alongside Filipino government forces here.

Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera said U.S. assistance was limited to sharing of intelligence and technical support.

"The presence of U.S. counterparts facilitate the exchanges of intelligence, facilitate subject-matter-experts exchange and also provides training exchanges and, of course, the technical support that we are sharing together in the fight of global terrorism,” Herrera said in a news briefing here.

He made the remark in response to a U.S. Embassy statement on Saturday that “U.S. special operations forces are assisting the AFP with ongoing operations in Marawi through support that helps AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute and ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) militants.”

The U.S. Special Operations Forces, which include elite military units like the Navy SEALs and the Army Rangers "have been providing support and assistance in response to Philippine government requests for many years," it said.

"As we have in the past, we routinely consult with our Filipino partners at senior levels to support the Duterte administration's counterterrorism efforts," the U.S. Embassy statement added, referring to the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

However, Herrera denied that there was a specific request for help made by the Philippines to the United States over the fighting in Marawi City.

“This is an enduring partnership, enduring commitment to fight global terrorism,” he said. "Hindi lang U.S. ang meron tayong partnership to fight terrorism [It’s not that U.S. who have a partnership with].

"We have Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and many more countries," he added.

Herrera also said he could not comment on reports of a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane reported to be flying within the combat zone on June 9.

"I have not seen that thing that you are mentioning," he said. "I need to check because I was not able to see that report."

The United States, a longtime ally of the Philippines, has seen bilateral relations in the military sphere challenged amid rhetoric from President Duterte over the year.

Related: Duterte: I only want to see Filipino troops on PH soil

This ranged from his threat to pull out of an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and joint military exercises and a vow to kick out a small contingent of U.S. forces stationed in Western Mindanao, which has been assisting since 2002 the Philippines in its counterterrorism efforts.

CNN Philippines' Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.