US forces join Philippine troops to end city siege

US forces join Philippine troops to end city siege

Thirteen Philippine marines were killed in fierce fighting with Muslim militants who have laid siege to a southern city for almost three weeks in the biggest single-day loss for government forces, the military said Saturday.

Black smoke comes from a burning building is seen after government troops' continuous assault with insurgents from the so-called Maute group, who has taken over large parts of the Marawi City, Philippines June 9, 2017.

The US Embassy in Manila also said that the US special operation forces were assisting the Filipino troops in battling the Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants in the besieged city.

Military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo says the marines were killed in daylong close-quarter combat on Friday.

Forty other marines were wounded.

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The fresh army fatalities raised the death toll from the government side to 58, while 138 extremists and 21 civilians were also killed.

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.

USA forces are providing the Philippines with technical assistance to end the siege in Marawi but it has no boots on the ground, the Philippines military said on Saturday.

"That's why we have community standards that explain what you can and cannot do on our service", a Facebook statement said.

They initially estimated there were about 100 gunmen but later said there were as many as 500, supplemented by foreign fighters from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

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Herrera, however, did not say when the terrorists were killed and in which specific operation.

"We have indicated to the Philippines. we stand ready to assist if there is a request", she told reporters.

Until now there had been no confirmation United States forces were assisting in the battle for Marawi City, now in its third week. He added that the #United States will provide technical support to Philippine troops.

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.

But Herrera denied that the U.S. troops are not joining Filipino soldiers in the fighting on the ground.

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