US returns bells taken as war trophies to Philippines

The U.S. on Tuesday returned three bells taken as war trophies to the Philippines, 117 years after they were seized.

Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisMacron: US 'retreat from Syria' won't change mission to eradicate ISIS Poll: Most Americans want US troops in Syria Fox's Griffin: Was told by diplomat that Syria attack was 'direct result' of US pullout decision MORE announced in November that the Balangiga Bells would be returned to the church they were taken from in East Samar, and Tuesday they were delivered back to the Philippines by a U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft.

The bells were originally taken in 1901 during the Philippine-American War. Filipino leaders have asked for the bells to be returned since President Ramos first asked President Clinton in 1993.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has had a tense relationship with the U.S., had asked for the bells to be returned, saying “this is painful for us” during his state of the nation address last year, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the return of the bells closes “a painful chapter in our history.”

"The Bells’ return reflects the strong bonds and mutual respect between our nations and our peoples. It demonstrates our determination to honor the past and the sacrifices made together by Filipinos and Americans. And it heralds our bright future as friends, partners, and allies."