Philippines and US forces take part in a military exercise in Zambales province in northwestern Philippines, Monday. Pic: AP.

SAN ANTONIO, Philippines (AP) — More than 100 Filipino and U.S. marines in assault amphibious vehicles conducted a mock assault on imaginary enemies in military drills on a beach in northwestern Philippines fronting the South China Sea, where Manila is locked in a territorial dispute with China.

The amphibious tanks sailed Monday from a U.S. ship anchored a distance away, then rolled onto the beach of San Antonio, Zambales, northwest of the Philippine capital Manila, disgorging the Filipino and American sailors and marines armed with automatic rifles. The exercise is part of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training.

Officials say the maneuvers are meant to improve coordination and capabilities but are not directed at China, which has been criticized for its increasingly assertive behavior in disputed South China Sea territories.

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