Thirteen Philippine marines have been killed in fresh gunbattles with Islamist militants who have overrun parts of a southern city, a military spokesman said today, in a dramatic surge in the toll from two weeks of fierce fighting.
The seizure of Marawi by hundreds of fighters who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, including dozens from neighbouring countries and the Middle East, has fuelled concern that the ultra-radical group is gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia.
The militants seized Marawi on May 13 and are still occupying parts of the city.
"This temporary setback has not diminished our resolve a bit, " said military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo.
The government earlier said that the unrest had left 20 civilians, 134 militants and 39 government troops dead.
But he had what the White House described as a "very friendly" phone call with President Donald Trump in April, and has since said his differences with the U.S. were with President Barack Obama's administration.
About 40 foreigners have fought alongside the Philippine militants in Marawi City, a lot of them from Indonesia and Malaysia, though some came from the Middle East.More news: US Contractor Charged With Leaking Top-Secret Data to the Media
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"The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues", the embassy said in a statement.
They face intense daily assault by tanks, jet fighters and helicopter gunships; according to the government, 138 of them have died in the...
Herrera said Farhana has been transported away from Marawi City to a "safe place", and is now currently undergoing investigation.
But Herrera denied that the USA troops are not joining Filipino soldiers in the fighting on the ground.
Marine Commandant Maj Gen Emmanuel Salamat confirmed the casualties to GMA News website on Saturday (June 10), saying that government troops and militants from the Maute group had been involved in a 16-hour clash in Barangay Lilod Madaya that began at around 3.30am on Friday.
A US P3 Orion surveillance plane was seen flying over the town on Friday (local time), but there has been no evidence that the United States has put troops on the ground there.
US Special Operations Forces "have been providing support and assistance in response to Philippine government requests for many years", the embassy said.