US spy planes help Philippine troops quell siege

US spy planes help Philippine troops quell siege

US spy planes help Philippine troops quell siege

The Philippines military spokesman said the U.S. forces are just providing technical support, not fighting the militants, who now still control part of Marawi city.

Almost 2,000 civilians remain trapped in the area under the group's control after a majority of the city's 200,000 inhabitants fled.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said the militant attack was part of a wider plot by IS to establish a base in the southern region of Mindanao, and declared martial law there to quell the threat.

The crisis in Marawi City began when militants went on a rampage after government forces attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, tagged as the leader of the Islamic State in the Philippines.

Lorenzana explained that US P3 Orion can operate anywhere in the country but that the Philippines recently asked USA counterparts to help survey the conflict area and bring "them closer to the action [so] they can advise better". "We have incurred 13 killed in action", Herrera said at a news conference in Marawi.

"We are saddened with the result ... we have fatalities on the government side". But it said its role was confined to providing technical assistance.

U.S. special forces are helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to end a siege of the southern town of Marawi by militants allied to Islamic State, a USA embassy spokesperson in Manila told Reuters.

Galvez however said the AFP has yet to receive recent information taken from the US P3 Orion because intelligence has to undergo a verification cycle and the information "cannot be given immediately". "For security reasons, we are not able to discuss specific technical details of USA support for ongoing AFP operations".

Also Saturday, 13 Philippine marines were killed in what Philippine officials said was the greatest single-day loss for government forces since the start of the almost three-week siege.

The cooperation between the longtime allies is significant because President Rodrigo Duterte, who came to power a year ago, has taken a hostile stance toward Washington and has vowed to eject USA military trainers and advisers from his country.

As the battle in Marawi raged Friday, U.S. Navy aircraft provided surveillance for the troops, confirming the involvement of the U.S. military in helping to end the urban insurrection by Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants at the request of the Philippine government. Mindanao was put under martial law to prevent the hostilities from spreading.

But a programme to advise the Philippine army on fighting militant groups in the war-torn southern island group of Mindanao was discontinued in 2015.

Philippine military officials say the violence has left at least 138 militants and 58 government troops dead.

She was allegedly on a mission to procure firearms as they prepare to escape the fighting.

On Saturday, the military said it was validating reports that two Maute brothers leading the enemy have been slain.

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.

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