Philippines: At least 13 marines killed in battle against Islamist militants

Kristopher Drake
June 12, 2017

It said in a statement it was providing Philippine forces with security assistance and training in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

It is unclear whether the pro-American military went over Duterte's head in seeking United States help.

The assistance was offered at the request of the Philippine government, according to an emailed statement that didn't give details of the support. ISIS is an abbreviation for the Islamic State group.

So far, 58 Philippine troops and at least 191 Maute militants have been killed, according to the state-run Philippines News Agency. Duterte also took exception with Obama's criticisms of human rights abuses in the country.

Another 16 Marines were wounded the following day in an operation to retake Mapandi Bridge, a key entrance leading to the city's center.

Since hundreds of pro-ISIS fighters stormed the city, the Philippine military has used precision assaults, backed by aerial and artillery bombardment, to drive the terrorists out.

U.S. special forces were helping provide intelligence to the Philippine military, but were not involved in combat operations, said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, an army brigade spokesman.

An Associated Press journalist and photographer saw a U.S. Navy P3 Orion plane hovering in cloudy skies above Marawi on Friday.

The move comes as a surprise given the strained relationship between the two countries.

However, the Philippines' relations with the US-a traditional ally and former colonial power-have been strained since Duterte took office and began distancing himself from Washington.

"The contribution of the USA is more on training and technical assistance".

Philippines correspondent David Santos, who is now less than five kilometers from the fighting, said the progress of government forces has been slowed by concerns over civilians caught in the crossfire. The aircraft flew above rocket-firing Philippine helicopters that struck militant positions, causing plumes of smoke to billow skyward. The ongoing conflict has displaced more than 200,000 residents and left Marawi City in ruins.

The military said on Friday its aim was to end the siege in Marawi City by Monday, the Philippines' independence day.

Marawi was seized on May 23 by hundreds of local and foreign fighters.

The two were detained on suspicion of providing financial and other support to their children who are involved in the fighting in Marawi, officials said. Government numbers now put the extremists' losses at 158 killed and nine captured. However, due to the intense fighting, recovering the bodies of those killed has been hard if not impossible.

One of the main Islamist factions dug in around the heart of the city is the Maute group, a relative newcomer on the insurgency-plagued island of Mindanao that analysts say is more sophisticated and media-savvy than more established groups.

The United States and the Philippines have a long and intertwined history.

Despite the heavy casualties received from this week's operation, Colonel Herrera guarantees that their resolve remains strong. Three police officers were also wounded during the ambush.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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