Philippine President Duterte seems to have quietly accepted U.S. Special Forces to advise and assist the PI in the task of destroying a festering Islamic insurgency on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. I remember back in the late 1980s the area was a hotbed for Islamic insurrection and rebel activity against the Philippine government. The anti-American rhetoric seems to have cooled since Barack Obama left and Donald Trump has made a push to re-establish good relations with the Philippines.
The fighting currently is clustered around the city of Marawi on the island. “The government is also supplying heavy artillery fire, air strikes and bombing runs. Many of the civilians or residents in this community have fled,” said CNN Philippines correspondent David Santos. The government has been pushing to eradicate several hundred ISIS fighters embedded in the area and keeps having to extend the deadline for defeating them.
“A number of militants were taking shelter in the city’s mosques, using their characteristic minarets as sniper positions, said Mr. Santos. “The fighting has so far claimed the lives of 58 government troops and over 100 civilians,” reported CNN.
“Now it appears al-Baghdadi himself, the leader of the ISIS, has specifically ordered terroristic activities here in the Philippines,” President Duterte claimed. He also claimed that the jihadi ideology had nothing to do with the attack on the major city of Mindanao, “Rebellion was financed by drug money. It has nothing to do with religion. I refuse to believe that it is religion that fueled this war.”
Due to Mindanao’s remote location and lack of modern infrastructure in the midst of the tropics, it is the ideal place for ISIS to find safe space and plan attacks. We will be hearing of conflict in this remote corner of the world for decades to come.
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