By Helen Flores
MANILA, Philippines - United States forces are providing technical assistance – not boots on the ground – to Filipino soldiers fighting since late last month to liberate Marawi City from Maute militants.
US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina confirmed the development after a television network aired a video of a US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft flying over Marawi on Friday.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also admitted getting technical support from the US.
“At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operation forces are assisting the AFP with ongoing operations in Marawi. The US non-combat support helps AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute and ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) militants,” Koscina said in an email to The STAR Friday night.
President Duterte earlier expressed optimism the Marawi crisis would be over “in a matter of days.”
The military aims to raise the Philippine flag in Marawi tomorrow, Independence Day, to show that the government has regained control of the country’s only Islamic City after almost three weeks of intense fighting with extremists, who claimed allegiance to the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS).
Mindanao has been under martial law since May 23, as Maute militants remain in control of some parts of the city.
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