US Special Forces Join Fight Against Marawi Militants; 13 More Soldiers Die

Special Forces from the United States military have teamed up with their Filipino counterparts in an attempt to flush out militants from the besieged Marawi city.

MARAWI, Philippines: Some 13 Philippine marines have been killed in fresh gun-battles with Islamist militants who have overrun parts of a southern city, a military spokesman said Saturday, in a dramatic surge in the toll from two weeks of fierce fighting.

This comes in the wake of reports that United States special forces are providing support to the Philippine military battling the Islamist militants in Marawi.

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

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera said the military was verifying the number of troops wounded in yesterday’s ferocious, sometimes house-to-house gun-battles with the militants.

Some 13 Filipino soldiers were killed in fresh fighting in Marawi.

“We are saddened with the result… we have fatalities on the government side. We have incurred 13 killed in action,” Herrera said at a news conference in Marawi.

The fresh casualties brought to 58 the number of government troops killed in the fighting, Herrera said.

At least 138 militants and 20 civilians have also been killed, the government said.

The militants have so far withstood more than two weeks air and ground assaults by security forces, although the military said they occupy only around 10% of the city.