The U.S. Joins the Philippines in a Battle Against ISIS

The U.S. Joins the Philippines in a Battle Against ISIS by J. Weston Phippen, Defense One

U.S. special forces have joined the Philippines military in a battle to push out Islamic terrorists who’ve seized a town in the south of the country. Three weeks ago two local extremist groups backed by ISIS, Maute and Abu Sayyaf, took Marawi City. Since then nearly 140 militants and 60 government troops have been killed the fighting, with the battle escalating in the past few days as government troops fight house-to-house. It’s illegal in the Philippines for foreign militaries to aid in actual combat, and on Saturday, military spokesman Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said U.S. special forces were “just providing technical support.”

The U.S. embassy in Manila confirmed to Reuters that it was offering support, but it released no further information. Reporters near the fighting said they saw a U.S. Navy P3 Orion surveillance plane flying above the city. The aircraft is likely providing intelligence on militant targets, and it soared above Philippine helicopters as they fired rockets into the city. “We don’t have adequate surveillance equipment,” a separate military spokesman told the Associated Press, “so we asked the U.S. military for assistance.”

The Philippine’s government believes 200 militants are fighting in the city, although they’ve been forced into a few positions in one corner of town. While the Philippines is mostly Christian, the Mindanao region has a large Muslim population, Marawi especially…

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