Rebels hold out in Marawi City
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.