MARAWI CITY The Philippines military said on Saturday it was validating reports that two brothers leading the Maute Islamist militant group were killed in the battle for control of the southern city of Marawi.
It's the biggest single-day loss for government troops since they began fighting militants allied with the Islamic State group who seized Marawi on May 13 and are still occupying parts of the city.
The 13 marines were killed during an "intense firefight" on Friday as they were conducting operations to clear enemy positions, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera told a news conference.
ASG stands for the Abu Sayyaf militant group.
Using their V-300 Commando Fire Support Vehicle, the Philippine Marines patrol Barangay Saduc in Marawi City on June 6, 2017.
Until now there had been no confirmation that the Philippines had sought USA assistance in the battle for Marawi City on the island of Mindanao, which is in its third week.
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He said the nation's oil production was still hovering around 1.5 million barrels per day, down from around 2.2 million b/d. Brent crude oil futures briefly rose above US$50 per barrel in early trading, but had dipped back to US$49.94 by 0040 GMT.
They initially estimated there were about 100 gunmen but later said there were as many as 500, supplemented by foreign fighters from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Reporters on the ground spotted a US P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft flying over Marawi City on Friday.
Over 20 civilians have been confirmed killed due to the fighting, according to the government, but the true number is likely to be higher with authorities yet to fully assess the roughly 10 percent of Marawi still being held by the militants.
Herrera said Farhana has been transported away from Marawi City to a "safe place", and is now currently undergoing investigation.
Also on Friday, the Philippine military asked Facebook to close dozens of accounts linked to fighters in Marawi City.
In a press briefing, Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said that U.S. special forces were helping the army. 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.
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.