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US, Filipino marines hold drill near disputed area


SAN ANTONIO, PHILIPPINES (AP): More than 200 US and Filipino marines have staged an amphibious assault on a beach as part of a combat drill near a South China Sea shoal disputed by China and the Philippines.

US Marine Brig. Gen. Craig Timberlake says the exercise Sunday in the coastal town of San Antonio in Zambales province will allow the military allies to operate jointly in a range of scenarios, including responding to disasters.

He refused to discuss whether or not the drill was related to concerns over China's growing naval power.

A Marine spokesman says China is not an imaginary target in the annual exercise.

The Philippines has sought US help to strengthen its military amid a territorial spat with China, including over the Scarborough Shoal off Zambales.

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