ILIGAN, – . special operations forces and spy planes are helping Filipino troops quell a nearly three-week siege by Muslim militants in a southern city where 13 were killed in the biggest single-day loss for government forces, officials said Saturday.
A . Navy aircraft provided surveillance for the local troops as the battle raged in Marawi on Friday, confirming the involvement of the . military in helping to end the urban insurrection at the request of the government, military officials said.
A . Navy P-3 Orion plane flew above rocket-firing helicopters that struck militant positions, causing plumes of smoke to billow skyward, on Friday in Marawi.
“We don’t have adequate surveillance equipment, so we asked the . military for assistance. It’s noncombat assistance,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said by phone, citing a government policy that bars foreign troops from local combat.
The . Embassy in Manila said, without elaborating, that . special operations forces were providing help to Filipino troops battling the Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants in Marawi.
were conducting a house-to-house search for militants allied with the Islamic State group who are still occupying parts of Marawi when the battle erupted Friday, said Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman for the army’s 1st Infantry Division.
About 30 to 40 militants used civilians as human shields, making it hard for troops to operate, and also positioned themselves in the city’s many mosques.
Forty other were wounded, Herrera said.
STUART VILLANUEVA/The Daily News/AP