U.S. troops assist Philippines' battle against Islamic militants

But the seizure of Marawi by Islamist militants raised enough alarms in Manila that the government sought U.S. assistance.
By Ian Marsh | Jun 11, 2017
U.S. special forces have deployed to the Philippines to help quell an Islamist militant insurgency that is holed up in the city of Marawi, Philippine officials said Saturday. Islamists with ties to the Islamic State have occupied parts of the city, which is the capital of the Philippine island of Mindanao, for the last three weeks.

The U.S. troops are not participating in combat operations, but they are providing aerial reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, surveillance, electronic eavesdropping, and personnel training. Philippine military forces have been struggling up until now to secure the city amid intense urban warfare that killed 13 Philippine Marines on Friday alone.

Philippine law explicitly forbids U.S. forces from participating in combat operations in the country. And Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been an outspoken critic of Washington and has promised to expel U.S. military trainers and advisers from Philippine territory.

But the seizure of Marawi by Islamist militants raised enough alarms in Manila that the government sought U.S. assistance. The insurgency draws from overseas support of its own40 of the faction's fighters come from other countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. And Friday's fatalities were the largest one-day loss the nation's military has suffered since a friendly-fire accident that killed 10 soldiers on June 1.

The Islamist forces attacking Marawi include Maute, a new insurgent group. Fighting alongside it is Isnilon Hapilon, a group that the Islamic State proclaimed as its "southeast Asia emir." The Philippine military hopes to secure the city from these and any other armed factions by Monday, Philippines' independence day.

 

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