USA special forces helping Philippines troops to end city siege

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"The presence of our USA counterparts facilitates exchanges of intelligence ... and also provides training exchanges and, of course, the technical support that we are sharing together in the fight against global terrorism", he added.

In a press briefing Saturday, Philippine Army 1st Infantry Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera clarified that USA forces were only providing technical support and are not part of clashes on the ground.

"Several high-powered firearms and improvised explosive devices were confiscated from their possession", Sindac added.

He also confirmed that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was still in Marawi City.

On Tuesday, police arrested the father of Abdullah and Omar Maute, who has been transferred to a Manila detention facility amid fears militants might attempt to rescue him. In 2002, the USA helped Philippine authorities track down Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya, who was killed in that operation.

Islamic State claimed that one of its "lone wolf soldiers" carried out the attack.

Arevalo said fighting resumed on Saturday as troops pushed their advance into three districts where more than 200 militants were still holed up since the hostilities began on May 23.

A US P3 Orion surveillance plane flies over Marawi, Philippines, on Friday.


When asked about the military's request, Facebook told the AFP new agency that it would remove accounts that promoted "terrorism".

"We are saddened with the result. we have fatalities on the government side".

The insurgents have so far withstood more than two weeks of air and ground assaults by security forces, with about 2,000 people believed to be trapped in militant-held areas although the military said this amounts to only around 10 percent of the city.

He stressed that Facebook does remove any account linked to "groups or people that engage in terrorist activity, or posts that express support for terrorism".

According to Army Spokesperson Restituto Padilla, General Eduardo Ano, the chief of staff, said that by Monday national flags will be waved freely in "every corner of Marawi".

Also on Friday, the presidential office issued a statement saying the traditional celebrations to commemorate the event had been cancelled by Duterte as he wanted to focus on the crisis in Marawi.

Australia had offered assistance to the Philippines last week.

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