Philippines military strikes IS militant positions in embattled town
The Philippines' military struck several positions held by Islamic State group-linked militants in the southern city of Marawi on Saturday, as ground troops battled to wrest control of the city from the fighters.
An army official said air strikes and other military actions in Marawi City will continue despite the ongoing Ramadan religious observance which began in the Philippines on Friday.
"As fighting continues in Marawi, our units are constrained to launch airstrikes to identified specific targets occupied by the Maute/ISIS terrorist group," Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a statement.
Galvez said that precision technology was being used to target the IS-linked Maute group in their hideouts.
"These terrorists atrocities continue sow terror and confusion even to non-combatant Muslims and Christians. Establishments remain non-operational and government services unavailable causing extreme deprivation and hardships to the people," he added.
Galvez stressed that soldiers would respect the observance of Ramadan in the besieged city and other parts of Mindanao, which was been placed under martial law last week by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to local officials, only around 10 percent of Marawi City's 200,000 residents remain in the conflict zone.
At least 31 suspected militants have been killed since Tuesday, six of whom were believed to have been from Malaysia and Indonesia, a military spokesman said.
Meanwhile, at least 11 soldiers have fallen in the ongoing battle, alongside nine hostages who were held by Maute.