Philippine leader tells troops not to fear civilian deaths

Philippine leader tells troops not to fear civilian deaths

What has created most intrigue is Duterte's absence during what is the biggest crisis of his year-old presidency, as the military battles for a sixth week to defeat Islamic State-linked rebels now occupying Marawi City on his home island of Mindanao.

At least 299 militants and 71 soldiers and police have also died in the fighting that began when militant laid siege to Marawi on 23 May.

He said the bodies of two militants believed to be from the Middle East due to their physical features were found at the scene of an earlier airstrike, another sign that foreign fighters had joined the battle.

Military spokesman Padilla said authorities recognized that people in evacuation centers were getting tired, but troops needed more time to flush out the gunmen and secure the city.

Foreign fighters, including those from Chechnya, Indonesia and Malaysia, are among those killed in the Marawi conflict. He said a "significant number" of dead had been seen by those who had escaped fighting.

"There have been a significant number [of bodies] seen but again, we can not include many of these", he said.

The army on Tuesday said there were reported sightings of the departure from the battle zone of Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic State's anointed "emir" in Southeast Asia, which Abella said showed he was not committed to his cause. 246 thousand people have also been displaced.

"[It] may increase significantly once we are able to validate all this information", military spokesman Restituto Padilla said, as cited by Reuters.

The military has so far been reluctant to discuss the possibility that the real impact of the fighting on civilians could be far more severe than has been reported.

Twenty-six civilians have been killed but officials believe scores of bodies of residents may still be in the heart of a conflict zone battered for weeks by air strikes and artillery bombardments. The court said it would examine the case in full in October but said the ban could now be enforced for travelers from the targeted countries "who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States". "They are already weak, so these are the manifestations that they're losing their ground, especially the center of gravity", he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte shares a light moment with the attendees of the Eid'L Fitr Celebration at the Rizal Hall in MalacaƱan Palace on Tuesday evening.

"Some of those who traveled to the Middle East got contaminated, brought the ideology back home and promised to declare war against humanity".

Military spokesman Padilla called for patience and said troops needed more time to flush out the gunmen and secure the city.

"Our combat environment is sensitive. They have not been hearing about him in the past few days so this led us to believe that he has abandoned his comrades, his companions", said Arevalo.

Muslims attended prayers at a Marawi mosque in an emotional gathering marred by the violence that has displaced some 246,000 people, and killed more than 350 people, majority rebels, and about 69 members of the security forces.

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