US spy planes help Philippine troops quell siege

Philippine marines were conducting a house-to-house search for militants allied with the Islamic State extremist group who are still occupying parts of Marawi when the battle broke out Friday, said Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman for the Philippine army's 1st Infantry Division.

China supports the Philippine government's "anti-terrorism" operations against Islamist militants, the Chinese foreign ministry said Monday after United States special forces provided support to Filipino troops. Since taking office past year, Duterte has been widely condemned for supporting the extrajudicial killing of drug users and criminals in the Philippines, including by the USA under the Obama administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte claimed over the weekend he was not aware prior to the fact that the US government was providing assistance to government troops in its battle against Islamist militants in the Islamic City of Marawi. The tough-talking Duterte took an adversarial stance toward former U.S. President Barack Obama, who had criticized his bloody anti-drug crackdown, but his relations with Trump have been markedly better.

Some are being held as human shields, while others are hiding in their homes without access to water, electricity or food.

"At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operations forces are assisting the (Philippine military) with ongoing operations in Marawi", the embassy said in a statement.

The military said the USA is providing technical support to end the siege of Marawi by fighters from the so-called Maute group, which took over large parts of the city late last month.

Philippine forces are desperately fighting #ISIS forces that have taken over Marawi city in the southern island of Mindanao. The death toll for civilians was 20 and more than 100 had been killed overall.

The clashes started as government troops were attempting to arrest top Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to reports, wants to declare Marawi a liberated city today, to coincide with the country's 119th Independence Day anniversary. 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.

Last Saturday, government troops suffered their largest single loss in the almost month-long offensive when 13 Marines, including two junior officers, died, and dozens others were wounded in a 16-hour gun battle.

The fight against terrorism, he said, is not only the concern of the Philippines or the United States but it is a concern of many nations around the world.

The Maute brothers have been linked to a series of bombings in the restive south, including one targeting a night market in Duterte's southern hometown that killed 15 people in September.

Arevalo said fighting resumed on Saturday as troops pushed their advance into three districts where more than 200 militants were still holed up since the hostilities began on May 23.

Arevalo said that the AFP can not make the names of the fallen and wounded available until such time that we have informed the next of kin.

A US P-3 Orion surveillance plane was seen flying over the town on Friday, according to local media reports.

Since the beginning of his term, the Philippine president was relentless in his tirade against the US, particularly against former President Barack Obama.

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