28 July 2017

News Story: Philippine military to pursue leftist rebels after crushing IS extremists - defense chief

MANILA, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday that government forces will be focusing on the fight against the leftist New People's Army (NPA) once the dragging armed conflict in Marawi City is over.

Lorenzana admitted that the operations against leftist rebels had been affected by the Marawi crisis, noting that troops had been pulled out to help flush out Maute Group in the city, whose members are extremists pledging allegiance to Islamic State (IS).

"It's just a consequence we were somehow (set back). We removed some of the battalions from the NPA areas and brought them to Marawi ... We lost focus and we are going to bring them back once Marawi is finished," he said.

The Duterte administration has ordered the termination of the peace talks with the leftist rebels last week, following series of attacks from NPA, including the ambush on Presidential Security Group personnel in Arakan, North Cotabato that wounded five men.

Lorenzana did not say the exact number of soldiers who were pulled out from NPA areas to fight the Maute Group in Marawi City. Sources said about 5,000 soldiers are currently assigned to liberate the city.

Read the full story at Xinhua