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 Post subject: ISIS in the Philippines
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:44 pm 
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ISIS (through an affiliate) has been fighting for quite a while in the Philippines.

Things appear to be ramping up: ... index.html

Bloodied and broken: Rising toll of Philippines' war with ISIS

By Euan McKirdy and Ivan Watson, CNN
Updated 9:12 PM ET, Mon June 26, 2017

Iligan, Philippines (CNN)During the rainy season on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, storms are foreshadowed by flashes of lightning in the distance, visible above the treetops.

When the rain finally comes, it is a vicious, torrential downpour, which ends as abruptly as it begins.

While the rains come and go, the flow of wounded into a military hospital in the north of the island does not. Just as two ambulances pull into the hospital at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro, the skies once again open up, muddying the dirt courtyard. They discharge yet another 10 soldiers, wounded in what is becoming a bloody, protracted insurgency by ISIS-affiliated militants.

Lt. Col. Jonna Dalaguit, the facility's chief medical officer, looks exhausted from the constant stream of broken men who are ferried into her hospital, brought in displaying the wounds of war -- "bullet wounds, blast wounds, fractures," she tells CNN.

"We have (admitted around) 330 casualties since day two of this crisis." It's the worst count she's ever seen.

It's been like this for a month, since ISIS-aligned fighters stormed the northern Mindanao city of Marawi, capturing key government buildings and setting fire to churches and schools.

In the weeks that followed, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have slowly clawed back territory in the city, but a stubborn remnant of around 100 fighters clings to a handful of inner city neighborhoods, despite a sustained -- and some argue indiscriminate -- campaign of government airstrikes reducing much of the city to rubble.

High human cost

The siege, which appears to have taken authorities by surprise, has come at a high human cost -- ISIS has killed at least 66 Philippines soldiers and wounded hundreds more since the conflict began. It's the highest military death toll in recent Philippines history.

It's so overcrowded at Camp Evangelista that around 30 soldiers, who aren't in critical condition, lie in camp beds in an open-air hallway. From here they watch their comrades, bloodied and broken, rushed in from the battle.

The troops occupying the beds here, and throughout the wards, bring back stories from the front.

One, who cannot be named for military reasons, painfully levers himself up, to prop himself against the side of his hospital bed. He lowers his sweatpants to show the stained bandages which cover much of the back of his thighs.

He was on the battlefield earlier this month, clearing buildings in the city with his team. His point man's weapon jammed, he said, and when he went to help him clear it, he was struck by an IED.
"I saw the ignition for a split second and turned," he said. "The (armored) vest protected me but not my legs."

He suffered extensive burns in the attack; his teammate was also wounded. Another bomb went off when the recovery team went in to extract them.

He was one of the relatively lucky ones. He says four members of his unit -- his friends -- have died in the past month, and he saw civilian bodies on the streets when the army first went in to take back the city.

Most soldiers brought to the military hospital at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, are suffering "bullet wounds, blast wounds, fractures," the chief medical officer says.

The militants this time are much more organized and "wiser" than in previous encounters, he says -- they've learned urban combat tactics honed in ISIS-held territory in the Middle East, he says.
"They're using tactics from Iraq and Syria now -- IEDs, RPGs."

The minarets of the city's mosques, not too long ago used by imams to call the faithful to prayer, now serve as deadly ISIS sniper nests.

Another soldier, whose mother quietly cleans his wounds as he lies in his bed, tells CNN that, as well as importing ISIS' urban guerrilla tactics, they ape the AFP's methods, and are fearless in carrying out counterattacks.

"We have mortars, they have mortars already," he says. "And they are ready to die."

Filipinos are used to the torrential summer rains, but they do not hold out much hope that this vicious insurgency, which has erupted with a ferocity unseen here before, will end as quickly.
ISIS goes global: 143 attacks in 29 countries have killed 2,043

Early warnings

Like the low thunder that precedes Mindanao's downpours, there have been rumblings of Islamist uprisings on the island for some time. Armed extremist groups have been in Mindanao -- the only part of the Philippines archipelago with a sizable Muslim population -- since at least the 1970s.

Over time disagreements and regional factionalism took hold and individual groups have separately carried out bombings, kidnappings and other atrocities with little central organization, mostly in areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a collection of Muslim-majority provinces and cities in the region.

Article with maps, videos and more continued at above link.

Here is a SkyNews video on the fighting around Marawi:

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