MILITARY

US: IS group could be emboldening Filipino militants

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, talks with his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin during their joint press conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, April 14, 2016. The United States on Thursday revealed for the first time that American ships have started conducting joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, a somewhat rare move not done with many other partners in the region. (Romeo Ranoco/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, talks with his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin during their joint press conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, April 14, 2016. The United States on Thursday revealed for the first time that American ships have started conducting joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, a somewhat rare move not done with many other partners in the region. (Romeo Ranoco/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The U.S. defense chief says the violent influence of the Islamic State group could be emboldening militants in the southern Philippines, who last week killed 18 Filipino troops.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter compared the slain Filipino soldiers to U.S. troops buried at an American World War II cemetery in Manila as he laid a wreath there Thursday.

Carter says their deaths are another reason why the IS must be destroyed.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says the Abu Sayyaf militants who clashed with the Filipino troops were trying to affiliate themselves with the IS in Syria and Iraq but there has been no evidence that the Middle East-based group has a presence in the country.

The Philippine military deaths were its largest single-day combat loss this year.