Rebels hold out in Marawi City

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

MARAWI: A week-long as­sault by Is­lamist rebels in a south­ern Philip­pine city is be­ing fuelled with stolen weapons and am­mu­ni­tion and fight­ers bro­ken out of jails, the mil­i­tary said yes­ter­day, as troops bat­tled mil­i­tants re­sist­ing ground and air at­tacks.

The pro-Is­lamic State Maute group has proven to be a fierce en­emy, cling­ing on to the heart of Marawi City through days of air strikes on what the mil­i­tary called known rebel tar­gets, de­fy­ing ex­pec­ta­tions of a swift end to their oc­cu­pa­tion.

The mil­i­tary de­ployed for the first time SF-260 close air sup­port planes to back at­tack he­li­copters and ground troops look­ing to box rebels into a down­town area.

The hard­line Maute had kept up the fight with ri­fles and am­mu­ni­tion stolen from a po­lice sta­tion, a prison, and an ar­moured po­lice ve­hi­cle, and were us­ing them to hold off the troops, said mil­i­tary spokesper­son Resti­tuto Padilla.

The mil­i­tants had freed jailed com­rades to join the bat­tle and opted to en­gage in ur­ban war­fare.

Reuters

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