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Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he talks to the troopers during his visit to Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu, Philippines May 27, 2017. Picture taken May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Nickee Butlangan

(reuters_tickers)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday he was not aware the U.S. government was providing assistance to government troops in its battle against Islamist militants in a southern city.

Duterte also said he "never approached America" for help.

"I am not aware of that until they arrived," Duterte told a media briefing when asked about U.S. support to fight the pro-Islamic State militants in Marawi City.

U.S. forces were providing the Philippines with technical assistance, but they had no "boots on the ground", the Philippines military said on Saturday.

(Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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