Monday, 11 December, 2017

USA special forces help Philippines fight Islamic militants

16 soldiers hurt as troops Maute clash 16 soldiers hurt as troops, Maute clash
Andrew Cummings | 12 June, 2017, 18:53

The clashes in Marawi began following a raid on the hideout of a leading Abu Sayyaf militant, Isnilon Hapilon, who pledged loyalty to IS almost three years ago.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto C. Abella said of the USA assistance: "The United States is assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its operations in Marawi but this is limited to technical assistance".

Hundreds of militants who announced that they are affiliated with ISIS seized the city on May 23, waging a bloody war.

A Philippines Air Force plane had bombed at least 11 of its own soldiers and wounded several others in a "friendly fire" last month.

"The Maute-ISIS group won't succeed, but we need the support of all sectors of society", Ano said. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis sought to reassure allies in the region, highlighting U.S. efforts to improve information sharing and to train Philippine counterterrorism forces fighting in the south. In a phone call with Duterte, President Donald Trump congratulated him on the "unbelievable job" he's doing on "the drug problem".

The military had hoped to end the siege by Independence Day, but on Monday troops were still struggling to reach the downtown area where militants were using about 100 hostages as human shields, hiding in mosques and using a pre-existing bomb-proof underground tunnel network, officials said.

The State Department on Sunday honored the relationship between the USA and the Philippines, pointing to "shared democratic values" between the two nations.

US military officials said Friday said that USA special operations forces are backing the Filipino army against Islamist militants.

"I am no American puppet", Duterte said in September 2016.

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The US Embassy in Manila said in a statement that US special forces were helping at the request of the Philippine government, but added that it could not disclose "operational details".

A United States official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said support included aerial surveillance and targeting, electronic eavesdropping, communications assistance and training.

Denying reports that states that he sought help from the U.S. to support Philippine soldiers battle ISIS-inspired militants in the Southern Philippines, Duterte said he never approached any American to help the military.

Herrera added that the military is investigating reports that the founders of the Maute group have been killed in the fighting.

Facing the worst crisis in his yearlong presidency, President Rodrigo Duterte canceled an annual Independence Day diplomatic reception at the presidential palace and skipped a flag-raising ceremony in Manila. "It does not involve any boots on the ground nor is there any direct participation in combat operations, a matter prohibited by law", Abella said.

More than 200 people have been killed in the fighting in its third week, said the spokesperson.

Reports coming in at AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City indicated that a major engagement, lasting for some 14 hours, erupted between Marine units and Maute Group terrorists at Barangay Lilot Madaya in Marawi City Friday.

The two were detained on suspicion of providing financial and other support to their children who are involved in the fighting in Marawi, officials said.

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