Islamists kill 13 Philippine marines in wartorn Marawi city

US forces join Philippine troops to end city siege: media

Philippine troops are struggling to defeat hundreds of fighters, who rampaged through Marawi on May 23 flying black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group, and have used civilians as human shields, bomb-proof tunnels and anti-tank weapons to fortify their positions.

"At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operations forces are assisting the (Philippine military) with ongoing operations in Marawi", the embassy said in a statement.

Forty soldiers were also wounded in the 14-hour firefight on Friday in Marawi City, 800 kilometres south of Manila, said marine spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

Philippine military officials say the violence has left at least 138 militants and 58 government troops dead.

"The local terrorist groups are using the mosque; they are entrenched there".

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ASG stands for the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Without confirming the specific request from the Philippines, a Facebook spokesman said the company has "well-established law enforcement channels for governments to contact us about emergencies".

About 40 foreigners have fought alongside the Philippine militants in Marawi City, a lot of them from Indonesia and Malaysia, though some came from the Middle East.

In Marawi, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera confirmed the USA assistance, telling a news conference: "They are not fighting".

The extremists occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings in Marawi City last month.

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The military on Saturday said that this is the biggest single-day loss for the government forces in a battle which has been ongoing for almost three weeks.

"As we have in the past, we routinely consult with our Filipino partners at senior levels to support the Duterte administration's counterterrorism efforts", the embassy said, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte. "They are just providing technical support", Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said.

An Associated Press journalist and photographer saw a U.S. Navy P3 Orion plane hovering in cloudy skies above Marawi on Friday. It's unclear how many people remain trapped in Marawi as government troops battle Muslim militants led by the so-called "Maute" group but army officers have put the figure this week at anywhere from 150 to 1,000.

Herrera said the number of troopers killed is "part and parcel of our offensive operations".

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