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The war between the Phillipine military with ISIS-linked fighters in Marawi, Southern Phillipine has been causing at least 13 Philippine marines were killed and 40 others wounded Friday during fighting with Maute militants in Marawi, according to the Philippine military. The fatalities occurred during a clearing operation over a 14-hour period. The deaths bring the toll in the three-week Marawi campaign to 58 Philippine troops and at least 140 extremist militants.
Military and security observer tend to agree that the war between the Phillipine military and ISIS-linked fighters in Marawi are an equal battle and there are any possibilities if the Phillipine military have been difficult to defeat the rebels. Because of those reason, US Special Operations Forces are assisting the Philippine military in its battle against ISIS-affiliated fighters, the US Embassy in Manila said Saturday. The forces have been deployed at the request of the Philippine government.
Both the US Embassy and the Pentagon said they couldn’t give specifics on the nature of the American support for “security reasons.” The Pentagon noted that US Special Operations Forces “have been providing support and assistance in the southern Philippines for many years, at the request of several different Filipino administrations.” The number of troops there ranges between 50 to 100 at any given time, the Pentagon said.
“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. “The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues.”
This temporary setback has not diminished our resolve a bit,” said Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, a military spokesman. “It instead primed up our determination to continue our prudent advances to neutralize the enemy, save the innocent lives trapped in the fight, and set the conditions for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi.”
The Philippine armed forces have been fighting the ISIS-linked Maute militants for control of the city of Marawi in the southern Mindanao region. Dozens of Philippine troops and militants have been reported killed in fighting, including more than a dozen marines.
The fight against the Maute militants is proceeding on social media as well as the ground. The Philippine military has called on Facebook to close 63 accounts linked to Maute militants engaged in the fighting.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera said the military had uncovered accounts used by militants that focus on “spreading propaganda messaging and misinformation.” Without confirming the request from the Philippines, a Facebook spokesman said the company has “well-established law enforcement channels for governments to contact us about emergencies. That Facebook removes any account tied to “groups or people that engage in terrorist activity, or posts that express support for terrorism.”
The request to Facebook comes just before the military’s goal of liberating Marawi by June 12 — the country’s Independence Day. The government is also using TV to counter the militants’ message. The state-run People’s Television Network aired a program Friday called “Countering Violent Extremism.” It explored the root cause of such extremism and offered suggestions on how to confront radicalization.
The government said it is preparing infrastructure repairs in Marawi once the region is cleared.
The Impact of Marawi Crisis to Indonesia
At least, there are four reasons that Marawi’s crisis will be impacted to Indonesia such as geopolitical reason, geostrategic reason, geographic and ideological reason. From geopolitical reason, Marawi’s crisis is showed about USA intention to maintain their political relation with the Phillipine to control Asia region as a pivot area.
From geostrategic reason, Marawi’s crisis has been shown that after ISIS defeated in Middle East especially in Syria and Iraq that “spill-over” militants have been grown in the Phillipine and Indonesia. Those condition has affected to destroy the continuing USA hegemony in a pivot area.
From ideological reason, Marawi’s case has been indicated that the maneuvers of ISIS-linked fighters in Marawi’s conflict has shown that a globally phenomenon on terrorism threat and every country has been threaten related to a seriously problems.
Continuing Marawi’s crisis has been signaling for Indonesia to prepare and to tackle its impacts because Marawi’s crisis is a strong signals about th existance of a terror groups in South East Asia. Miangas, Marore and Marampit Islands in North Sulawesi have been anticipate about those crisis especially from the exodus of a terror groups member including refugee. Besides that, other Indonesia’s region such as North Kalimantan must ready too because their territory is a near with Tawi-Tawi islands one of Islamic Mindanao Provinces region.
Essentially, the impact of Marawi’s crisis to Indonesia has related with security situation including the concern against terrorist attacks because being admitted or not, ISIS-sleeper cells has existed in Indonesia. Cicendo and Melayu Village suicides bombing had been proving that ISIS-sleeper cells have been alert to launch their attacks wherever and whenever.
Basically, Marawi’s crisis is a premierly step to test the possibility and the acceptability of ISIS-sleeper cells to prove their loyality over their values itself and finally they will build Islamic State in Indonesia and the Phillipines (ISIP). The massive of Phillipine military opressing to ISIS in Marawi’s city could be triggered solidarity among ISIS militants in Indonesia to lauch their “amaliyah”.
*) The author is a terror observer at LSISI, Jakarta.