MANILA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Saturday that the death toll in the ongoing conflict in the southern city of Marawi has reached 537, including 93 soldiers and policemen.
AFP spokesman Restituto Padilla said that as of 7 p.m. local time Friday, the military has also recorded deaths of at least 399 Islamic militants and 45 civilians. The death toll is expected to rise as the fighting to retake rebel-controlled areas within the city continues, he said.
Fighting broke out in the Philippines' only Islamic city on May 23 when militants allied with Islamic State (IS) attacked a hospital, a school and government buildings in a failed attempt to control the city.
The military said the attack was part of the militants' big plan to establish an IS caliphate in the southern Philippines, home to Filipino Muslims and several groups of Muslim insurgents that have plagued the country for decades.
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