By: David B. Larter
BETHESDA, Md. — The Islamic State group’s affiliates in the southern portion of the U.S.-allied nation of the Philippines is a growing threat to U.S. security, a U.S. Army Pacific official said Tuesday at the Global Explosive Ordnance Disposal Symposium & Exhibition.
The group seized the city of Marawi on the Philippine island of Mindanao in late May and have turned the city of 200,000 inhabitants into a battlefield comparable to the brutal slog faced by allied forces trying to take back the Iraqi city of Mosul.
“ISIS affiliated elements took over that city on the 23rd of May, and the Philippine Army is still trying to get it back,” said Col. Gerardo Meneses, director of the Asia-Pacific Counter-IED Fusion Center, which monitors improvised explosive device activity in the region. “It’s a very Mosul-like situation. It’s not making headlines but they’ve had over 600 casualties there. … This is a growing threat.”
Meneses’ organization published a report in June highlighting the dangers posed by the sudden boost the battle of Marawi has been to ISIS-Philippines’ profile in the global jihadi movement and to its leader Isnilon Hapilon.
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