Philippines military says close to defeating Islamist rebels

Philippines military says close to defeating Islamist rebelsBy Tom Allard MARAWI, Philippines (Reuters) – The Philippines military said on Monday it was close to retaking a southern city held for a seventh day by Islamist militants, as helicopters unleashed more rockets on positions held by the rebels aligned with Islamic State. The clashes in Marawi city with the Maute militia, a group hardly known a year ago, has become the biggest security challenge of Rodrigo Duterte’s 11-month presidency, with gunmen resisting air and ground assaults and still in control of central parts of a city of 200,000 people. The military said the rebels may be getting help from “sympathetic elements” and fighters they had freed from jail during the rampage that started on Tuesday and caught the military by surprise.

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