“Twenty-one days since Islamic State fighters breached the city of Marawi in the Philippines, intense battles are still raging in its center, and Islamic State fighters are spread out over more than two-thirds of the area, tightening the noose on the Philippine Army, which is unable to take back the initiative,” the narrator says.

The Philippine military says that the government has lost 58 soldiers and police officers, and that it is boxing in the rebels.

The role of the United States

Americans are providing surveillance and intelligence assistance to the Philippine military under a longstanding agreement. Since the early 2000s, the United States has stationed a rotating force of 50 to 100 Special Forces troops in the southern Philippines to provide training and technical assistance to the Philippine military in its fight against terrorists.

Now, U.S. intelligence is probably helping the Philippine military select bombing targets, like those targeted by OV-10 Broncos.


An OV-10 Bronco aircraft dropping a bomb last week.

Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But foreign troops are barred from combat by the Philippine Constitution, and United States and Philippine officials say there are no American troops in Marawi.

A government crackdown

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law for 60 days on the island of Mindanao, the country’s second-largest island, where various rebel Islamic groups have operated for decades. Mr. Duterte, facing his biggest crisis since taking office nearly a year ago, had talked of declaring martial law nationwide in his antidrug campaign, which has resulted in thousands of deaths at the hands of police officers and vigilantes.

Checkpoints set up around Mindanao may aid in the apprehension of militants who slip away from Marawi in the coming weeks. The Maute brothers’ father, Cayamora Maute, and other relatives were arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City. A combined military and police unit arrested their mother, Ominta Romato Maute, in the town of Masiu, an hour’s drive from Marawi.

Philippine security forces searched houses for guns and ammunition last week.

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