At least 13 Philippine Marines killed, 40 wounded in fierce Marawi clashes
10 June, 2017, 17:40
The militants have been under siege since rampaging through the southern city on May 23.
USA special forces have joined the battle to crush Islamist militants holed up in a southern Philippines town, officials said on Saturday, as government forces struggled to make headway and 13 marines were killed in intense urban fighting.
MARAWI CITY, Philippines- Government troops suffered 13 casualties on Friday, Day 18 of the fight against the local terrorist groups here.
Friday's ferocious, street-to-street gunbattles with the militants saw 13 troops killed in a dramatic surge in the toll from the conflict.
The extremists occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings in Marawi City last month.
Philippine troopers ride their vehicles in Marawi.
"For security reasons, we are not able to discuss specific technical details of USA support for ongoing military operations", it added.
UnitedStates military special operation forces are now helping Philippine miltiary in dealing with Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
It added that Washington would "continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues".
It was discontinued in 2015 but a small presence remained for logistics and technical support. At the moment, no USA soldiers have been deployed but according to reports on site, a US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft has flown over the area. He reiterated that this assistance is part of the two countries' standing cooperation against terrorism.
Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera confirmed the USA help, adding that the special forces were not fighting, but "providing technical support".
"We give premium to the mosques, because this is very symbolic to our Muslim brothers", Herrera said.
It would not go into operational details but said the UnitedStates forces were helping at the request of the Philippine government.
Philippine Army1st Infantry Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera on Saturday said there were "strong indications" that Omar and Madie, two of several Maute siblings tagged in terror activities, were killed in government offensives.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered martial rule in the region for at least 60 days in an attempt to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State (ISIS).
The announcement of U.S. help in the embattled southern region of Mindanao comes after Duterte has sought to reduce the Philippines' reliance on the UnitedStates and build much closer ties with China and Russian Federation.
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