In this June 9, 2017, photo, soldiers ride a military vehicle on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. (Associated Press/Aaron Favila)
ISIS may have lost its physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but the group is poised for a resurgence in its enclave in the Philippines — and instead of eradicating the terror group once and for all before it facilitates another horrifying attack like the Easter bombings that rocked Sri Lanka, the U.S. military is focused on new plumbing.
At least, that's the takeaway from this fantastic Thomas Gibbons-Neff story in the New York Times on the latest mission for the contingent of U..S. special operations forces that have been assisting the Philippine Army with their campaign against ISIS insurgents over the last two years.
Photo via Special Operations Command - Philippines Army
In late October, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared victory over the ISIS-inspired Maute group after a five-month pitched battle left more than 1,000 dead in the sprawling city of Marawi. The siege, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and the Pentagon to deploy an unidentified detachment of special operations forces, finally culminated with the deaths of two top terror leaders. Now, more than a month later, the AFP’s own elite forces are taking a victory lap.
The Department of Defense is currently considering targeted airstrikes against ISIS militants in the Philippines as part of a named military operation, two unnamed Pentagon officials told NBC News on August 7 — a move that would accelerate U.S. military involvement in the Southeast Asian country’s campaign against the terror network.
U.S. special operations forces are assisting the Philippine army in its effort to expel ISIS-affiliated militants from the city of Marawi, Reuters reports, signaling a gradual expansion in the scope of the Trump administration’s intensifying campaign against the jihadist.