US special forces aid Philippine troops in battle for Marawi

Manila: The Philippine military said it hoped to "liberate" Marawi by Monday, the country's 119th Independence Day, and cited the waning volume of fire coming from the enemy as an indication that the pro-Islamic State groups' loosening grip on portions of the besieged city would soon be weakened.

About 40 foreigners have fought alongside the Philippine militants in Marawi City, a lot of them from Indonesia and Malaysia, though some came from the Middle East.

The Marines were killed while rescuing trapped civilians in the conflict-torn city, a Philippine army spokesperson said.

The U.S. embassy emphasized to CNN that U.S. Special Operations Forces have been supporting the longtime ally's counterterrorism efforts for years, but in fact that alliance had become significantly strained following the rise of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

'We are saddened with the result. we have fatalities on the government side, ' he said.

"Ang pakinabang sa U.S. [ay] confirmatory [lang], pero lahat ng ginagawa sa taas...basically lahat ng ginagawa doon kami lang talaga, [mga] Filipino", Galvez said at a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro.

News of the technical assistance from the United States comes at a time when the local forces suffered its biggest one-day loss on Friday, when 13 marines were killed.

An American surveillance plane was seen flying over Marawi City, the center of the fighting.

The Philippines' army is trying to oust hundreds of fighters who have sworn allegiance to ISIS after entering the city of Marawi, located in the south of the Philippines.

Galvez however said the AFP has yet to receive recent information taken from the US P3 Orion because intelligence has to undergo a verification cycle and the information "cannot be given immediately".

The request for USA assistance came eight months after Duterte suggested he would end joint military drills with the US, after President Barack Obama's criticism of the extrajudicial killing of thousands of people in the war on drugs that human rights advocates say has disproportionately targeted the urban poor.

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".

Washington deployed special forces soldiers to Mindanao in 2002 to train and advise Philippine units then fighting Abu Sayyaf militants.

"They are not fighting", he told a news conference. "For security reasons, we are not able to discuss specific technical details of USA support for ongoing AFP operations".

Their mother, Ominta Romato Maute, alias Farhana, was arrested on Friday near the town of Masiu in Lanao del Sur, along with two wounded fighters and several women companions.

Meanwhile, Abella gave the updated report on the military action in Marawi as of June 9, Friday with 21 civilians killed by local terrorist group; 1,599 civilians rescued while 138 enemy killed and 153 recovered firearms.

  • Jack Mann