US Aircraft Assist Philippines Against ISIS Takeover
After 13 Philippine Marines were killed and another 40 injured in a single day in fighting against a group with ties to ISIS, US aircraft have been seen doing reconnaissance in the area of Marawi City on the island of Mindanao. It is hoped the entrance of the US aircraft can assist in ending the ISIS takeover.
“U.S. special operations forces are assisting the AFP with ongoing operations in Marawi that helps AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute and ASG militants at the request of the Philippine government… The U.S. government continues to work with the AFP to increase intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities through security assistance and training.”
The fighting has been ongoing since May, and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) have lost at least 58 personnel in the fight against the Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants. Both groups have pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The ISIS-backed groups have taken numerous hostages that are at an unknown location, presumably in the city center. If they are still alive.
The militants, who are believed to be holding a Catholic priest and many other hostages, have torched buildings and destroyed at least one church. Ano said they occupy 10 percent of the city and have positioned snipers in tall buildings. Much of the city center has been devastated.
The crisis in Marawi, combined with fears that the Islamic State group is breathing new life into Muslim insurgencies in Southeast Asia, has put the Philippines and the region on edge.
Philippine forces have managed to liberate all but the Marawi City center.
“If the situation in Marawi in the southern Philippines is allowed to escalate or entrench, it would pose decades of problems. All of us recognize that if not addressed adequately, it can prove a pulling ground for would-be jihadists.” Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.
According to Defense News, the effort to retake Marawi City has been a difficult push.
“…their efforts have been hampered by their lack of training, inexperience in operating within a dense urban environment as well as stubborn resistance from the militants, who include foreign fighters from regional countries and the Middle East in their ranks.
The military’s problems have also been exacerbated by a lack of coordination and advanced equipment, which have resulted in friendly fire casualties from an errant airstrike and the loss of several light armored vehicles to militant ambushes.”