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Militants executing civilians as Marawi siege enters 4th week

Since 2002, the Philippine military and the USA special forces have been holding joint military exercises to exchange military tactics and technical expertise to improve their capabilities.Currently, the Philippine city of Marawi, located on Mindanao Island, is besieged by ISIS-linked militants.The heavy fighting occurred as police arrested the mother of two brothers leading the militants, who come from different local groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist movement.Though the city is effectively surrounded by Filipino troops, due to the archipelagic nature of the #Philippines, terrorists can easily enter through its vast network of islands and start all over again. The government has long had an issue with rebel groups in the area trying to establish a separate Muslim region of the Philippines.What is the status of the fight against the ISIS infiltrators?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.”They were expecting the whole populace of Marawi will support them, will welcome them”.Manila – US Special Operations Forces entered Saturday on the line of the Marawi battle in south the Philippines, now controlled by militants allied to ISIS. A US Orion surveillance aircraft has been seen flying over the battlefield.The military has said it is aiming to end the siege by Monday, the Philippines’ independence day.Duterte cut short a state visit to Russian Federation and declared 60 days of martial law over the island of Mindanao when fighting broke out in May.”This is dedicated to soldiers who offered their lives to implement our mission in Marawi city”, said Colonel Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of an army brigade fighting in Marawi. “It does not involve any boots on the ground nor is there any direct participation in combat operations, a matter prohibited by law”, he said.Flag ceremonies are normally performed twice a week, but this was the first in the mainly Muslim town since May 23, the first day of the siege, when the militants aligned with the Islamic State (IS) killed and abducted Christians and torched a cathedral.Philippine National Police Special Action Force personnel at a checkpoint in Marawi city, as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, June 10, 2017. A Philippine military official told AP that the U.S. was providing “noncombat assistance”.Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said that at least 200 government troops had been killed and many had abandoned their posts, leaving behind weapons that were seized by the militants.The embassy told CNN it would not provide further details about the USA support due to “security reasons,” but added US special operations forces have provided assistance in response to Philippine military requests for years.Almost all of Marawi’s entire population of about 200,000 had already fled.”Together we must act now to prevent this threat from growing”, said Mattis at the conference.