USA supports Philippines' battle for Marawi

U.S. special forces have joined the battle in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, after 13 Philippine marines were killed in intense urban fighting, the Philippine military said yesterday.

Padilla also said that government troops were still planning to raise the Philippine flag in Marawi on Monday for Independence Day even if the fighting continues.

"At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operations forces are assisting the [Philippine Army] with ongoing operations in Marawi", stated a US embassy spokesperson. The aircraft flew above rocket-firing Philippine helicopters that struck militant positions, causing plumes of smoke to billow skyward.

But the Philippine military said on Saturday US forces were providing technical assistance without having "boots on the ground".

But Col. Edgard Arevalo, military spokesperson in Manila, said 40 other soldiers were wounded in a "raging close quarter combat". Philippine military leaders have said their troops unexpectedly interrupted plans by the fighters to take over Marawi in a spectacular event to show that IS had arrived in the Philippines and was intent on carving out territory.

United States special forces have joined the battle in southern Philippines town Marawi in efforts to end the siege against Islamist militants holed up there.

Marawi-based military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera confirmed the U.S. help, adding that the special forces were not fighting, but "providing technical support".

Their use of civilians as human shields and the presence of tunnels in areas under their control were also compounding the situation. Portions of the only Islamic city in the country are falling into debris after successive aerial bombardments of the government forces against its enemies ensued running for several weeks now, but the government said they are now planning on rehabilitation and recovery.

"The key component we saw in the firefight with the marines [on Friday] was how the terrorists are using mosques", he said, as Rappler reports.

"There were intense firefights, house-to-house gun battles", Herrera said at a news conference in Marawi earlier in describing Friday's gun battles, adding that the total number of government troops killed in the conflict was 58.

At least 200 militants are holed up in a corner of the town with an estimated 500 to 1000 civilians trapped there.

Elsewhere Friday, Philippine forces captured the mother of two top militant leaders in the Marawi attack.

Officials say that foreign nationals are among the militants in Marawi, with the list of countries and territories including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Yemen, India and Chechnya.

USA military involvement on the island of Mindanao, 800 kilometers (497 miles) south of Manila, would mark a turn in strains exemplified by President Rodrigo Duterte's past pledges to expel United States troops after decades of cooperation.

Farhana, who reportedly acts as a financier to her sons, was nabbed together with two injured militants and seven unidentified women was arrested after their vehicle was intercepted at Barangay Kormatan in Masiu town, Chief Supt.

  • Leroy Wright