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Philippines: Duterte thankful for USA force's assistance in Marawi conflict

Philippines: Duterte thankful for USA force's assistance in Marawi conflict”

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic, but the southern third of the country is home to a large Muslim minority, and for decades the government has fought multiple rebel groups seeking a separate Islamic state in the south.

Indonesian military chief on Monday (June 12) said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has presence in almost all provinces across Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

Duterte had aimed for the army, fighting with technical support from US advisers, to clear the Islamist forces from Marawi by Monday after three weeks of fierce fighting that has forced most of the 200,000 residents to flee from the city. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

Washington said at the weekend it was providing support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to clear the militants from pockets of Marawi.

The military said 138 militants had been killed in the ongoing conflict while 21 civilians had fallen victim to the Maute group.

Nearly the entire population of about 200,000 fled from Marawi after the militants stormed it, but the military believes that beyond the checkpoints now fencing off its main roads there are still some 500-600 civilians trapped or being held hostage.

"The terrorists ran after them and indiscriminately fired at them, killing five of the civilians and taking eight as hostages", Abella said.

Abella urged the public to honor the "heroes and civilians and pray for them and the families they left behind".

On the day of the attack, government forces had arrived in Marawi City to serve a warrant of arrest on former Abu Sayyaf-Basilan leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was believed to be in the city after joining the Maute group. President Rodrigo Duterte then declared martial law on Mindanao.

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On Sunday the region's military chief, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, told a news conference that the fight would be "most hard, deadly, bloody, and it will take days and months to clear up". Moreover, the leader is known for his constant criticism about the United States government for meddling into the internal affairs of Philippines.

"We also have information that we received recently that actually the Maute brothers and Hapilon, they have a line connected to ISIS, particularly al-Baghdadi, which also incited them to attack Marawi", he said.

Padilla said about 100 militants were still fighting, down from the estimated 400-500 who stormed the town.

IS also released a video on Monday via its Amaq propaganda news agency which it said showed jihadists shooting six Christians in Marawi, according to the US-based SITE monitoring service.

He claimed that the terrorists and their allies, who are involved in illegal drugs, sought to seize not just Marawi but at least two more cities.

ISIS-linked groups operate in the semi-lawless border areas between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia and are made up of fighters from several different countries.

Manila said this was technical assistance and there were no United States "boots on the ground".

One of the main Islamist factions dug in around the heart of the city is the Maute group, a relative newcomer on the insurgency-plagued island of Mindanao that analysts say is more sophisticated and media-savvy than more established groups.

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