US commandos helping Philippines troop battle Islamist militants in Marawi 

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Philippine National Police Special Action Force personnel man a checkpoint in Marawi city
Philippine National Police Special Action Force personnel man a checkpoint in Marawi city Credit: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

US special forces are providing support to the Philippine military battling to dislodge Islamist militants in a southern city, the US embassy said Saturday, as 13 Filipino marines were killed in fresh fighting.

 

Philippine troops are struggling to defeat hundreds of fighters, who rampaged through Marawi on May 23 flying black flags of the Islamic State group, and have used bomb-proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons and civilians as human shields to fortify their positions.

Friday's ferocious, street-to-street gunbattles with the militants saw 13 troops killed in a dramatic surge in the toll from the conflict.

It was among the heaviest fighting in the standoff, according to AFP journalists in Marawi, with the air force supporting ground troops with sustained bombing runs that battered the city.

As the fighting intensified, the US embassy in Manila said American forces were providing assistance to the Filipino troops, although it declined to give details for security reasons.

Debris flies in the air as Philippine Air Force fighter jets bomb suspected locations of Muslim militants as fighting continues in Marawi city
Debris flies in the air as Philippine Air Force fighter jets bomb suspected locations of Muslim militants as fighting continues in Marawi city Credit: AP Photo/Aaron Favila

 

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