losangelesnewstoday.com May 20, 2018

USA forces helping Philippines to retake city from IS

13 June 2017, 10:59 | Katrina Lee

Soldiers aboard their vehicles maneouver through a street in Marawi in southern island of Mindanao


The nation's 119 year of independence was marked solemnly on Monday as security forces continue to try and contain Islamic State-affiliated Maute group militants.

Mr Duterte said he had "never approached America" for help and was "not aware of that until they arrived", when he was asked about United States support to fight the pro-ISIS militants in Marawi City, on the island of Mindanao.

As the conflict intensified, the USA embassy in Manila said American forces were providing assistance to the Filipino troops, although it declined to give details for security reasons.

As gunfire rang out and planes flew bombing raids to pummel districts of the largely-abandoned city, a crowd of soldiers and officials gathered outside a nearby government building to raise the Philippine flag.

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

They were utilized by the U.S. to overthrow regimes in Middle East and countries that are no longer allies and run counter to its imperialist interests, similar to what the USA did in Libya, the NDFP-Mindanao said.

"We believe the enemy has strong defensive positions", he said.

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

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The Palace is deeply saddened by the news on the 13 Marines killed in action during a firefight in Marawi City.

TRT World's Shamim Chowdhury exclusively spoke to the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim for the latest. The death toll for civilians was 20 and more than 100 people had been killed since the fighting began.

The gunmen were using about 100 hostages as human shields, hiding in mosques and utilising an underground tunnel network in the city, making it hard for troops to manoeuvre, he added.

The two countries are bound by a 1951 mutual defense treaty, though Duterte has tried to steer the Philippines away from United States influence since he became president previous year.

President Duterte previously ordered troops to "crush" Islamist extremists occupying parts of the southern city of Marawi, despite the militants holding dozens of civilians hostage.

The government declared martial law on May 24, and the jihadists have reportedly "stockpiled weapons and food in mosques, tunnels and basements to prepare for a long siege, ' per Reuters".

"I can not stop my soldiers now - let's finish this war that Islamic State has started".

"The President said in a media interview in Cagayan de Oro that as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he allowed the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to decide on matters pertaining to martial law", Abella said.

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