Philippines' Duterte says didn't seek US support in city siege

THE PHILIPPINES Armed Forces (AFP) have requested all government agencies to fly their flags at half-mast on Tuesday, as fighting with Islamic militants enters its fourth week in the city of Marawi. Reuters and CNN report that that the embassy didn't offer any details as to what kind of assistance the us was now providing, but an official from the Philippine military has said that it only comprises "technical support", not boots on the ground. "We will remove accounts and content that violate these policies when we are made aware of them".

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 U.S. military trainers and advisers from his country.

The marines were killed while rescuing trapped civilians in the conflict-torn city, a Philippine army spokesperson said, adding that so far, more than 200 people have been killed in the fighting, which is now in its third week.

Some are being held as human shields, while others are hiding in their homes without access to water, electricity or food.

The US previously deployed special forces soldiers to Mindanao in 2002 to advise Philippines units fighting Abu Sayyaf militants in a program that once involved 1,200 Americans, but was discontinued in 2015.

On Friday, police also arrested the mother of the Maute brothers, the two men leading the fighters in Marawi City.

Malacañang lamented the deaths of 13 Marines killed in action in Marawi City where government troops are battling ISIS-inspired Maute terrorists to retake the city.

He also said the Maute Group plotted to also attack Iligan City and kill as many people as they can.

The Maute joined forces with Isnilon Hapilon, who was previous year proclaimed by Daesh as its Southeast Asia "emir".

The military's social media-monitoring team identified 63 accounts under fake names that it believed were being used by the Islamic State-allied Maute group and its sympathisers.

Filipinos marked their country's Independence Day by raising the national flag Monday in a southern city where troops pressed assaults to quell a three-week siege by Islamic State group-aligned militants that has left 270 combatants and civilians dead. Maute group gunmen also killed 21 civilians during their attack.

On Sunday the region's military chief, Lieutenant-General Carlito Galvez, told a news conference the fight would be "most hard, deadly, bloody, and it will take days and months to clear up".

A USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said support included aerial surveillance and targeting, electronic eavesdropping, communications assistance and training. An Associated Press journalist spotted a U.S. Navy P3 Orion surveillance plane hovering above Marawi on Friday. 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.

"Last month, President Trump praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for his handling of drug problems in his country, which has reportedly included the extrajudicial killing of thousands".

Related news