Philippine and US Military Police training

US Special Forces Helping Philippines in Battle Against Extremists in Marawi

The United States acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that its special forces were assisting Filipino soldiers locked in ferocious gunbattles with militant extremists in the southern Philippines, as local military officials said 13 Philippine Marines had died and dozens others were wounded in the latest firefight.

The Philippine military has been trying to dislodge the militants from the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups in Marawi city since May 23 and Friday’s dawn-to-dusk gunbattle, which also wounded 40 soldiers, resulted in the biggest single-day casualty suffered by the government. The seizure of Marawi by the Islamic State-inspired militants has fueled concern that the ultra-radical group is gaining foothold in Southeast Asia.

Since he took power in June last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has issued statements vowing to end a decades-old military alliance with the United States and, instead, pushed for tighter diplomatic and economic relations with China and Russia.

But on Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Manila confirmed that the Philippines sought the aid of U.S. Special Forces in trying to solve the siege.

“At the request of the government of the Philippines, U.S. special operations forces are assisting the (Filipino military) with ongoing operations in Marawi through support that helps (its) commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute and ASG (Abu Sayyaf group) militants,” the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy declined to discuss other details, citing the sensitivity of the operation.

Full story: BenarNews

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
Marawi, Philippines

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

TN

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