Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Singapore joins Philippines in fighting ISIS in Marawi City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 19): Singapore joins Philippines in fighting ISIS in Marawi City




Photos from the Facebook page of Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Singapore has joined the Philippines in battling local ISIS militants in the besieged city of Marawi and offered to deploy an unmanned aerial drone to help the Filipino military gather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission.

Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana briefed him on the situation in Marawi and told him what the military needs. In response, Ng said Singapore offers to deploy the drone and will also send a C-130 cargo plane to deliver humanitarian supplies to assist displaced residents of Marawi.

He said Singapore will also train Filipino soldiers in urban warfare. “Armed Forces of the Philippines soldiers would benefit from training in our urban training villages – much needed for their current operations,” he said.

Ng said many countries within ASEAN and other nations are monitoring the extremist violence in Marawi City. “Hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced out from their homes by extremists in Marawi. These ISIS-linked networks have openly declared their goal to establish an Islamic Caliphate in ASEAN, as they did in Iraq and Syria,” he said, adding, “peace-loving countries understand that if we do not combat terrorism together, we will be attacked individually, and our citizens will never be safe at home.”

Ng said these extremist leaders want to establish bases in cities like Marawi and from there, launch further attacks against other cities within the Philippines and ASEAN, and urge their cells to attack targets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

He said Lorenzana thanked him for the security assistance. “He and the AFP were very encouraged by the support from countries like Singapore,” Ng said.

The United States and Australia also deployed P-3 Orion spy planes in Marawi and are currently helping local military in locating ISIS fighters.

Fighting is still raging in Marawi despite the military’s pronouncement that it had killed nearly 500 militants since fierce clashes began on May 23 when local ISIS occupied the city in an effort to declare it as a province of the caliphate. Nearly 100 soldiers and over three dozen civilians were killed in the violence that displaced more than 200,000 people.

Many of the militants managed to escape from the city, but security officials said less than a hundred fighters are still holed out in buildings in at least 4 villages.

Just recently, the ISIS-run AMAQ website said its fighters destroyed an armoured personnel carrier in Marawi which has been likened by war refugees to the city of Mosul in northern Iraq after photos of the devastation and aerial bombings and artillery fire by the military flattened many structures in the city.

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