Published: Sat, June 10, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Sandra Brady

Marines killed in Marawi City

Marines killed in Marawi City

Thirteen Philippine marines have been killed in a gun battle with Islamist militants as troops step up an offensive to regain control of a southern city besieged by the terrorists for nearly three weeks.

Reports from GMA News says the soldiers' encounter with the militants started Friday morning and lasted until the evening.

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.

The heavy fighting occurred as police arrested the mother of two brothers leading the militants, who come from different local groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist movement.

For the past 18 days, boys such as these and their adult commanders have occupied the centre of Marawi, a city of 221,000 people in the southern Philippines.

Herrera, however, did not say when the terrorists were killed and in which specific operation.

In Marawi, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera confirmed the USA assistance, telling a news conference: "They are not fighting".

An Associated Press journalist and photographer saw a U.S. Navy P3 Orion plane hovering in cloudy skies above Marawi on Friday.

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The latest death toll in the ongoing fight for Marawi is 217, including 58 from the government side, 138 militants, and 21 civilians.

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. He added that the #United States will provide technical support to Philippine troops.

The Philippines military suffered its biggest one-day loss on Friday since 10 troops were killed in a friendly-fire incident on June 1.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier threatened to throw out USA troops amid strained relations since taking office.

It was discontinued in 2015 but a small presence remained for logistics and technical support.

"The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues", the embassy said in a statement.

But Duterte has openly scorned the alliance, seeing it as an obstacle to a rapprochement with China, and has repeatedly lambasted Washington.

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