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ISIL Takes Control of First City in Philippines

TEHRAN (FNA)- heavy clashes erupted overnight in the predominately Sunni city of Marawi in the Southern Philippines after security forces and ISIL sleeper cells battled it out for hours on end, media reports said.

Two soldiers and one police officer were killed in the skirmishes although no civilians were injured by crossfire, said a military source, Al Masdar reported.
Subsequently, the Philippine Army withdrew from most of the city on Tuesday, thereby making it the first city in Southeast Asia to come under ISIL control.
Some 500 ISIL insurgents are said to be present in Marawi. These heavily armed militants have taken control of the city center and set up roadblocks in several districts.


In addition, ISIL members have captured the main prison in Marawi and released over a hundred prisoners, many of whom are caliphate sympathizers and may join its ranks.
Dozens of military vehicles and weapons were also captured during the battle although no official confirmation on the events have been issued by Amaq Agency yet.
In response, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao province while the provincial mayor called on the army to send reinforcements which are expected to arrive tomorrow for a coming counter-assault.
The Philippine Army still controls most army bases and government buildings inside Marawi and has set up checkpoints on its outskirts although ISIL controls most of the residential areas. For instance, the main hospital in the city remains under siege. Marawi is home to over 200,000 residents and is roughly the size of Raqqa in comparison.
Amaq Agency recently released a series of images depicting an ISIL training camp at an undisclosed location in southeast Asia, likely near the newly captured Marawi city.
The jihadist takeover was spearheaded by two allied ISIL franchise groups, namely the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf.
Amaq Agency has now confirmed the ISIL assault. Heavy clashes continued overnight on Wednesday as the Philippine Army tried to retake its lost areas. Meanwhile, ISIL captured the Amai Pakpak Hospital.
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