ISIS-linked militants left millions worth of meth in Philippines

A group of police and military conduct a house-to-house search as part of clearing operations in different sections of Marawi, Philippines, June 7, 2017.

Malacañang's comment came after reports US senators expressed concern over Marawi becoming an ISIS hub, saying the USA government should play a bigger role in the country's defense against the terrorists.

"At this stage, I suppose we'll have to take the position that it's unlikely for Marawi City to become a new hub for IS [Islamic State] fighters", Abella said.

Philippine aircraft bombed rebel positions and ground troops launched a renewed push against Islamist militants holed up in a southern city on Tuesday, with the aim was to wrap up the fighting before the weekend Eid festival, a spokesman said. "It should not get out of control", Ernst added.

The battle between Philippines' security forces and Isis-affiliated Maute terror group entered its 29th day.

As of Tuesday, the military said 258 militants, 65 security personnel and 26 civilians had been killed.

The Palace said the recovery of 11 kilos of shabu on Sunday validated President Rodrigo Duterte's statements that the narcotics trade fueled the ongoing siege in Marawi.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, the Philippine Army's 1st Infantry Division chief and Task Force Marawi commander, said troops of the Alpha Company led by 1st Lt. Emerson Tapang of the Army's 49th Infantry Battalion recovered the shabu and four high powered firearms after figuring in a firefight against members of the Maute terrorist group at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that Duterte -who previous year made headlines when he branded former U.S. President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" and told the worldwide community not to meddle in the Philippines' affairs-was responding to a question of whether the president's rejection of foreign support was "wavering".

He added that whatever the United States is providing in the war in Marawi City will remain as it is, limited to only intelligence and logistical assistance.

After the military confirmed the American help, Duterte said he was "not aware of that". "So the role of the U.S. in relation to IS is to provide technical assistance, as prescribed by the Constitution and we will abide by that".

  • Leroy Wright